MARINE biologists studying the effects of climate change, ocean acidification and oxygen depletion — caused by overfishing and pollution — have often pointed out that depletion of the ecosystem is dangerous for various fish species.
Consider this: how essential is seaweed, that is known as the ‘tree’ of the coastal ecosystem?
A nutrient-rich seafood it mitigates oxygen depletion. So, when local fishing communities are trained in conserving marine biodiversity to recognise certain species of seafood as vital for the ocean, their contributions become invaluable.
This was in evidence recently, when a large rhomboid squid caught alive was later released by fishermen in the eastern part of Gwadar district in Balochistan.
Although a rare species found in tropical waters and weighing about 30kg, the fisherman responsible for releasing the squid said he did not sell it for a few hundred rupees.
Clearly, he appreciated the marine creature’s role in the ecosystem of offshore waters. One of 50 fishermen trained by the WWF-Pakistan to protect coastal ecosystems, he understands the implications of a stable food chain.
If such vigilance had been exercised in previous years, perhaps the fate of the endangered blue whale washed up on Karachi’s coastal shoreline might have been less unfortunate.
In August 2014, a dead 67-foot blue whale had local fishermen scouring its stomach to find its ambergris — the candle-like, rock solid and waxy substance produced in the intestines of the male sperm whales and highly valuable in perfumeries and pharmaceuticals.
Quite clearly, the ‘sea gold’ that the whale yielded held monetary attractions for them. With 90pc of the ocean threatened by overfishing and 3.5 billion people globally dependent on the oceans for their primary food consumption, conservationists and organisations such as WWF-Pakistan do a commendable job.
But surely, with government help larger numbers of coastal communities could be motivated. Investing in coastal communities to preserve essential fish stocks, while adopting safer zones and methods to increase economic profitability, would also mitigate the effects of climate change.