Human activity is forcing unprecedented change on our oceans and coasts. With only 2% of the oceans fully protected, these are some of the most poorly governed regions in the world. Pollution, overuse and climate change are causing loss of habitat and biodiversity. A global rethink and local action is needed, urgently.
The oceans provide half of our oxygen and regulate our climate. They are one of the most valuable ecosystems our planet has to offer. They grant us food, climate stability, energy and recreation, but we are overfishing and overexploiting them, treating them like a dumping ground for animal, military and nuclear waste. As climate change causes them to warm up, the sea levels to rise and waters to acidify, our oceans are losing their biodiversity and productivity. Meanwhile coastal dead zones are expanding due to loss of oxygen.
The Ocean Atlas 2017 is a wake-up call. It is published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Berlin and Schleswig Holstein, The Future Ocean cluster of excellence in Kiel and the monthly newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique. The groups are calling for local action and global regulations to raise ocean awareness, inspire societal change and to protect our oceans.
In 12 brief lessons the atlas puts together the latest facts and figures on our impact on the oceans. It explains why we are seeing a rapid increase in acidity levels, how 90 percent of globally exploited fish populations are fully utilized, and 20% of them even overfished. Plus, the atlas shows what an alternative to problematic offshore fish farms could look like, which doesn’t rely on pesticides.
On 25th August, 2017 Heinrich Boell Stiftung Pakistan launched the Ocean Atlas in Karachi, the port city of Pakistan. Senator Dr Karim Ahmed Khawaja, a Pakistan Peoples Party leader, Muhammad Ali Shah, chairperson of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), and Mome Saleem, representating of Heinrich Boell Foundation Pakistan, were the key speakers of the event. The launch was attended by local fishermen, academia, civil society, journalists, and policy makers and politicians working on the issue of seas, marine life, climate change, trade and industries, and related issues were invited.
The launch of the Ocean Altas was aimed at creating awareness and initiating a discourse regarding the importance of marine resources and threats facing the marine environment in general and specifically in Pakistan. With a coastal line of about 1,050 kilometers spanning across the Sindh and Balochistan provinces, many of the major issues discussed in the atlas have relevance to Pakistan: ocean pollution, destruction of coastal habitats and non-sustainable exploitation of the marine resources are just a few to be mentioned. In addition Pakistan is also highly vulnerable to impacts of climate change and its coastal area is more susceptible to the changes occurring in the ocean.
Senator Khawaja shared that the Senate has formed two committees – one for dealing with the affairs of ports and jetties and the second for dealing with the issue of Karachi’s untreated water passing daily through Lyari and Malir rivers before falling into the Arabian Sea.
The participants of the event shared that a lot of work needs to be done in and beyond Karachi with regards to ocean protection, fisheries, marine protection and conservation, oil spill, rights and livelihood of fisherman community, ship breaking industry and pollution owing to lack of waste management and infrastructure projects. It was emphasized that Sustainable Development Goals should be translated at the national level and put in the context of ocean protection.
For a download and further information on the Ocean Atlas please see our website.