Plastic items along Karachi beach kill fish and other sea animals: New research

KARACHI: Plastic items discharged in sea along Karachi beach kill fish and other sea animals whey they eat them. The plastic items do not dissolve in the bodies of sea animals, particularly fish, and some time stuck in their throat, causing their death, according to new research conducted by University of Karachi.

The research was conducted by Ramzan under the supervision of PhD holder expert Dr Zafar Iqbal Shams of Environment Department ,University of Karachi. The title of the research is “Quantities and composition of shore debris along Clifton Beach Karachi”.

According to the research, man-induced debris has reduced the life of fish and other living things like mammals, seabirds and turtles along Karachi beach. Plastic, food, paper, glass, metal, processed wood, cloth, styrofoam, masonry, and rubber is thrown at sea beaches which pose threat to the life of sea animals.

Clifton beach on average was contaminated with 8172 debris items per kilometre in June, 10562 items per kilometre in July, and 7856 items per kilometre in August .

The study demonstrates that in terms of number, plastic was the most abundant debris on the beach, followed by food and paper. Plastic accounted for 914 items (45% of the total number of debris items) in June, 1468 items (56%) in July, and 974 items (50%) in August.

“These items are very dangerous for fish life and can kill the fish if they eat them,” Dr Zafar Iqbal Shams told PPI while commenting on the report.

Dr Shams said: “Huge quantities of garbage is discharged into sea through Lyari and Malir Rivers of the metropolis, which not only contaminate sea water but also cause killing of fish and other sea animals. He said that sea pollution along Karachi is rising constantly due to discharge of garbage, sewerage and industrial waste. As a result, sea water at Manora beach has turned blackish.”

The pollution along Karachi coast has reduced fish production to very low level. Now fishers will have to go deep into the sea for several miles as they could not find fish along beaches of Karachi. Dr Shams said that the government needs to devise a policy to reduce marine pollution. He said that industrial and city sewerage should be treated first and then discharged into the sea, while city garbage should be disposed of at proper places.

The report said that along Clifton beach, the main sources of debris are restaurants, hawkers, cafes, which serve food, beverages and mild stimulants in plastic, polythene bags and aluminium foil to the beach visitors. The major part of the floating debris from Lyari and Malir Rivers is also discharged along Karachi beach.

The persistent accumulation of man-induced debris along Karachi and world’s other beaches has become a global concern. Man-induced beach debris poses serious threat to marine mammals, seabirds and sea turtles mainly through ingestions and entanglement.

Debris abundance and composition were investigated for the first time along the most popular beach Clifton. The survey was conducted in June, July and August to estimate the weight and number of 10 predetermined types of debris and the observation was made.