Climate change affecting fish catch, warn experts
By: M. Waqar Bhatti
Karachi: Climate change is affecting fish catch in Pakistani waters as elsewhere in the world, as changes have been observed in the timing and duration of fishing seasons in the studies recently carried out in Jiwani, Keti Bunder and Kharo Chan districts.
This was stated by Ali Dehlavi, Project Manager, Building Capacity on Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Areas of Pakistan (CCAP) project, while speaking on the second day of the three-day workshop titled “A Regional Perspective for Assuring Sustainable Marine Resources”, at a local on Friday.
The workshop is organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature – Pakistan (WWF-P) under its Marine Program to gain regional perspective from national as well as international experts to ensure a better understanding on how to manage marine resources on a sustainable basis.
Speakers on the second day of the workshop highlighted the need to build cohesion between governments for regional collaboration.
Ali Dehlavi said that changes in sea surface temperature may have both negative and positive impacts on fish population as predator and prey populations across species stand to be affected, including microbial zooplankton.
Climate change can impact life cycles of fish, including breeding and spawning, as well as impact volumes of fishermen’s catch, he said.
Factors affecting life cycles and catch include changes in sea surface temperature, sea level, precipitation, and atmospheric temperature, he said and added that the CCAP project has already observed changes in the timing and duration of fishing seasons as reported by respondents in the studies recently carried out in Jiwani, Keti Bunder and Kharo Chan districts.
Farhad Kaymaram, Biology and Stock Assessment Specialist from Iran, said that marine fish stocks were declining. Taking about the global status of fish stocks with reference to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, he said that 53 per cent of fish stocks were fully exploited.
He said that small scale fisheries constitute the major part of the fishery sector and play significant role in sustainable livelihood and poverty alleviation.
The Iranian expert recommended for co-management of marine resources, which includes involvement of community members, resource users and the government.
Tooraj Valinassab, another senior fisheries researcher from Iran, said that there were some evidences based on research cruises in the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea that the ecosystems were changing, especially in the Persian Gulf, adding, some species like catfish, rays and threadfin bream have increased and some other species such as silver pomfret and snappers have decreased.
He observed that many changes have occurred in marine species which could be considered as a result of pollution, red tides, climate change and overfishing.
The researcher emphasized the need of collection of scientific information and correct data for effective management of marine resources. Denial Suddaby, Tuna Manager WWF-UK, said that he was in Pakistan to learn about fisheries management and concepts of stakeholders in Pakistan.
His presentation highlighted the key areas of concern in the Indian Ocean, saying, WWF smart fishing initiative has helped Pakistan start building cohesion while advocating and lobbying for transforming fisheries in the long run.
He said that through a series of sequential logical change i.e. good stock management, mitigated environmental impact profitability could be increased. During the workshop, four groups were formed which highlighted the marine issues and suggested their solutions.
The group members focused on the themes of conservation, policy matters, markets and governance. They suggested that proper training of crewmen, implementation of laws, use of catch reduction devices, decrease in number of trawlers and treatment of sewerage water into ocean could play important role in the conservation of sustainability of the marine resources.