Need stressed to explore coastal resources for development, conservation

KARACHI: There is an urgent need to explore coastal resources for development and conservation said speakers at a launching ceremony of position paper ‘Linking Coastal Financial Investment with Resource Development and Conservation’. Friends of Indus Forum (FIF) developed the position paper in collaboration with Building Capacity on Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Areas of Pakistan (CCAP) Project, World Wildlife Fund (WWF-Pakistan). Shams-ul-Haq Memon former secretary Forest, Wildlife and Environment department government of Sindh said active management of coastal resources could sustain environmental services and livelihood and reduce risks from coastal hazards. He maintained coastal areas were rich in biodiversity potential for ecotourism promotion. Mangroves and Ramsar Sites wetlands (Indus delta, Nurreri and Jabo Lagoons) are important coastal resources and ecosystems provide services and products for socio-economic benefits and livelihood of local communities. In addition, they provide aesthetic and cultural services. He said coastal belt was home to variety of marine mammals, water birds both resident and migratory including important water fowls such as green winged teal, blue winged teal, ferruginous duck, shellduck, gadwall, shoveler and pintail. He said in past, red rice cultivation was abundant in the Indus delta. However, due to uneven supply of freshwater, agriculture has been on decline. Resilience of coastal communities needs to be built against impending threats from climate change. Farhan Anwar environmental expert said apart from the multifaceted economic activities taking place in Karachi vicinity, most of the economics associated with the coastal regions of Pakistan centered around fishing, forestry and related businesses. Fisheries and allied industrial activities are the most important economic activities along the coast of Sindh and Balochistan supporting livelihood of about 1 million fishermen and their families living in rural villages under difficult conditions. According to an estimate, Pakistan has a fish and seafood industry worth $1.2 billion. Exports alone are worth nearly $213 million per annum. More than 0.8 million people rely directly or indirectly on the industry for their livelihood. About 70 percent of the total industry of Pakistan is located in Karachi city. He informed the total number of industrial units was estimated to be about 6,000. No industrial activity of any significance occurs anywhere else along the coast other than in Karachi. Sikander Brohi President FIF said there was strong need for the society to act collectively to highlight, understand and work towards the restoration and preservation of unique Indus eco-region. He informed the Forum has developed a series of position papers, which focus on environmentally important themes. He said the position paper was timely initiative and indicated new forms of tape socioeconomic benefits by investing in coastal land and resources through a participatory collaboration between government, private sector, communities and the media. Nasir Ali Panhwar General Secretary FIF said the position paper looked at the need and feasibility of exploring the linking of coastal financial investment with resource development and conservation along the coastal zone in Pakistan. It assesses the present scenario of utilisation of coastal resources for financial benefits, identifies the constraints and highlights the potentials of enhancing benefits from existing resource utilization. The paper outlines a ‘roadmap’ and ‘policy and implementation framework’, and implementable models for establishing a ‘coastal zone financial investment plan’. Dr Shahid Amjad said oceans provided products and services, both tangible and intangible. He said Pakistan has a large coastline and lot of plans have been developed in past with minimum implementation. ‘We should make prudent investment in improving the coastal area for which business plan is imperative, he added. Sassi Memon Project Officer CCAP, WWF-Pakistan said 12 vulnerability assessment studies have been conducted under the project and further research studies have been planned to identify the impact of climate change. She said under the raised platforms it proved useful during recent cyclone hitting coastal areas of Sindh. She said solar panels and alternative livelihood resources have been provided to local communities of Keti Bunder and Kharro Chan in Thatta. Dr Sono Khangarni, Agha Tahir, Shahjahan Baloch, Shoukat Ali Rahimo, Ali Murtaza Dharejo, Anis Danish and other also spoke on the occasion. 

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