ISLAMABAD: The government and World Bank will conduct a three-month study on Pakistan’s ocean waters for assessment of carbons sequestered by the country’s ocean waters and mangrove forests, said Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam on Sunday.
Talking to media, Mr Aslam said a blueprint had been planned to assess economic value of millions of tons of carbons stored in the ocean waters and mangroves in the country.
“The study will help identify the scale of Pakistan’s ocean waters’ carbon storage potential. It will also help weigh up the amount of carbon storage capacity of the country’s entire ocean ecosystem as well as the carbons stored so far in the ocean waters and coastal mangrove forests.”
He added: “We believe that so far the country’s ocean waters have stored carbons worth economic value estimated to be billions of dollars.”
The PM’s aide said the country’s seabed territory expanded by around 50,000 square kilometres in year 2015 after a UN body accepted Islamabad’s claim for extension of sea limits.
“On March 19, 2015, United Nations’ Commission on Limits of Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) had completed its review and accepted Pakistan’s claim for extension of its continental shelf limits, extending Pakistan’s sea limits from 200 nautical miles to 350 nautical miles,” he recalled.
Following the acceptance of the claim, Pakistan’s offshore territory of 240,000 sq km expanded by another 50,000 sq km, allowing the country to benefit from the natural resources contained in it.
However, the blue carbon ecosystem and carbon storage assessment strategy prepared for implementation soon will help capitalise the carbon storage potential of the increased ocean belt as well as the country’s mangrove cover, which would be applied at industrial scale.
Explaining about blue economy, he said the blue economy is an emerging popular concept which encompasses around protecting the oceans and sustainable use of natural resources, including water for sustainable growth and development.
The blue economy concept also supports sustainable usage of ocean resources for economic growth, social inclusion, and the preservation of livelihoods. At the same time, it ensures environmental sustainability of the oceans and coastal areas as well as promotion of environmental-friendly activities, including renewable energy, fisheries, maritime transport, coastal tourism, waste management and climate change risk management.
The coastal ecosystems of mangroves, tidal marshes and sea grass meadows provide plenty of benefits and environmental services that are vital for climate change adaptation along coastlines, including protection from storms and sea level-rise, coastal erosion, coastal water quality contamination, provision of habitat for commercially important fisheries and endangered marine species and food security for many coastal communities.
“These vital ecosystems sequester and store significant amounts of coastal blue carbon from the atmosphere and ocean. These coastal ecosystems are now considered of unprecedented importance for their role in climate change mitigation,” Mr Amin Aslam added.
He lamented that despite numerous benefits and services, coastal blue carbon ecosystems were some of the most threatened ecosystems on Earth, with an estimated annually 340,000 to 980,000 hectares being eroded.
Mangroves provided at least $1.6 billion annually in ecosystem services, which consisted of supporting fisheries by providing critical spawning grounds for commercial fish species. They also filtered pollutants and contaminants from coastal waters and contributed to healthy coastal marine water quality besides protecting coastal communities against storms, floods and erosion.
Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2020
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