WWF director blames climate changes, overfishing
With the return of summers, beaches across Karachi and Balochistan are crowded again. But it's not just people cramping the shores this year.
According to reports, in the last few weeks, hundreds of dead jellyfish have been seen on the coast, both in Karachi and Balochistan. WWF Technical Director Moazzam Khan says that these dead fish have become a common phenomenon over the last few years.
"A decade ago, seeing a jellyfish in real was a rare occurring," he told SAMAA Digital. "You either had to go under waters for it or have amazing luck."
Pakistan is home to over 40 species of fish. Every year, fishermen catch hundreds of jellyfish from their blooms. "Jellyfish blooms are groups of the fish formed by over reproduction which takes place due to over-fishing and climate change," Khan explained.
Over years, the fishing community of Pakistan has extensively harvested these fish. Jellyfish are caught by fishermen, marinated in salt, and then dried under the sun. The catch is then exported to China and Vietnam.
"This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, China has placed a ban on the import of jellyfish," the WWF technical director said. "This meant that the fishermen didn't harvest the animal resulting in the fish dying and washing up on the shores."
Khan said that, locally, the fish are bifurcated into two types: asli [real] and naqli [fake].
According to WWF Pakistan, every year, about 2,500 metric tonnes of dried jellyfish are exported from Pakistan. Jellyfish fisheries in Pakistan are a source of substitute income for small-scale fisheries in the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan. An estimate reveals that over 10,000 people are a part of this industry.
Another reason for the blooming and dying jellyfish is climate change. "The dead fish have been witnessed in multiple cities across the world in the last few years," Khan said.
Experts have attributed this climate change and global warming. WWF's Dr Badar Khan said that warm sea waters favour jellyfish resulting in an increase in their numbers.
This is alarming because jellyfish feed off plankton, crustaceans, small fish, and fish eggs. These are all the food of small fish and whales. When jellyfish increase, food for these animals decreases disturbing the overall ocean life.