World Mangrove Day

The International Day of Mangroves was celebrated on Sunday, calling for global action against the shrimp farming industry and for increased efforts to conserve mangrove forests.

Fishing communities around the world are expressing concern over the destruction of mangroves (trees and shrubs growing in saline coastal habitats) which are not only a hub of plant and animal biodiversity, but provide a natural barrier to soil erosion, protect coastal areas from storms, and provide income for coastal communities.

Fishermen activists advocating the rights of marine communities warn that shrimp farming is the largest threat facing mangroves, requiring trees and shrubs to be chopped down in order to build ponds to raise shrimp. Shrimp farms have been responsible for destroying 35 percent of the world’s mangroves in the past 20 years, along with accompanying environmental hazards of expulsion of antibiotics, pesticides and fish feed into surrounding land and waterways.

In Pakistan alone, mangrove forests have been reduced from 600,000 to 73,000 hectares in the past two decades, with government plans to further promote aquaculture by inviting multinational companies to invest in new projects. Karachi was once a heavily protected area, but is now susceptible to disasters and cyclones due to the loss of mangrove areas.

Mohammed Ali Sha, Chairperson of The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) believes that plans to promote aquaculture will, in addition, be disastrous for communities that are completely dependent on fishing. Destruction of mangroves that are breeding grounds for shrimp and other fish species can cost these communities their only source of income.

It is hoped that the recognition of this day will create a stronger international network of small-scale fishermen for the conservation of mangroves worldwide.

The International News

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