ISLAMABAD  -    The Arabian Sea being polluted by dumping of Karachi’s 472 million gallons per day (mgd) untreated waste water into it calls for action on the World Ocean Day.

According to a report, around 6000-7000 tonnes of solid waste produced every day in the country’s largest metropolis is also dumped at the shores of Arabian Sea.

“There are six industrial zones in Karachi with around 10,000 industrial units that manufacture everything from textiles to chemicals and paints. The most polluting, in terms of chemical waste, are the tanneries.”

Authorities estimate that Karachi produces around 500 million gallons per day (MGD) of waste water. Around one fifth of water comes from the industries, while the rest is the domestic or municipal sewerage. “Almost the entire sewerage and industrial waste water goes into sea without treatment, which has brought a natural disaster, as we are losing our fish catch and also it is affecting marine life,” the report said.

According to the law, the owners of industrial units bear the responsibility for treating their liquid waste and its disposal properly without harming the environment. However, Sindh Chief Secretary Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah informed a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change that out of the total 472 mgd liquid waste only 50 mgd was being treated where the authorities were working to set more sewage treatment plants to enhance the capacity.

The fishermen have repeatedly claimed the water pollution caused by municipal and industrial effluent and solid waste dumped into the sea is the main cause of marine and acquatic species decline.

They also showed their concerns over oil spillage caused by Port Qasim and Karachi Port which are the two main functional harbours. There is no system or any other set-up established by the port authorities to curb harmful and hazardous leakage into the sea.

“The fish, crabs and other marine life available near the shores have finished due to waste pollution and oil spillage due to which we have to travel far into the open sea to catch fish for our livelihood,” the fishermen said. The United Nations, in its message on the World Ocean Day 2019, said “Oceans and seas connect and sustain us. They are home to vast biodiversity and are a vital defence against the global climate emergency.

“Yet today the oceans are under unprecedented threat. In the past 150 years, about half of all living coral has been lost. In the past four decades, plastic pollution in oceans has increased tenfold. A third of fish stocks are now over exploited. Dead zones – underwater deserts where life cannot survive because of a lack of oxygen – are growing rapidly in extent and number.”

It mentions, “This year’s observance of World Oceans Day highlights the gender dimensions of our relationship with the ocean. The effects of pollution and climate change on the oceans have a disproportionate impact on women. For too long, women have been unable to share equally in ocean-supplied benefits. Women represent half the work force engaged in the catching and harvesting of wild and farmed fish, yet are paid substantially less than men. Women are also often segregated into low-skilled and unrecognized labour, such as fish processing, and are denied a decision-making role.

“Similar treatment occurs in related sectors such as shipping, coastal tourism and marine science, where the voices of women are frequently not heard.”

Confronting gender inequality, the UN said, was essential to achieving the ocean-related Goal and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “We must ensure an end to unsafe work conditions and guarantee that women have an equal role in managing ocean-related activities.”

The UN urged governments, international organizations, private companies, communities and individuals to promote gender equality and the rights of women and girls as a crucial contribution to meeting ocean challenges.

“We must also act across an array of sectors to address the conflicting demands from industry, fishing, shipping, mining and tourism that are creating unsustainable levels of stress on marine and coastal ecosystems Arabian Sea calls for action at World Ocean Day.”