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Marine Life Challenges: Pakistan Needs to Implement SDGs Goal 14


Hamna Ghias Sheikh

Life below the sea (marine life) water is immensely important for all the sea carrying nations of the world. Since the globe is on verge of disaster due to increase in temperature within the oceans as the level of oxygen is decreasing day by day due to climate change. The profound impact of climate change on the life below sea water is becoming a major point of concern for all sea carrying nations of the world including Pakistan. Pakistan is one of the prominent countries of South Asia carrying a long coastline of about 990 kilometers stretching on its coastal provinces of Baluchistan and Sindh.

It has been examined that in a current time frame, all the sea carrying nations are the sea blind nations due to the increasing pollution and negligence towards the naturally blessed warm waters. Pakistan is listed among those countries of the world who have adopted the Sustainable Developments Goals as their national agenda for the purpose of ensuring the healthy and sustainable future for the people of Pakistan.

The country has proved to be committed to all the global efforts with achieving the goal 13 Climate Action a decade before its deadline. With reference to goal 14 which is life below sea water aims for Pakistan’s commitment for ensuring the sustainable oceans along with marine life which is being impacted because of the coastal pollution. Pakistan is facing a number of issues from marine pollution to the actual degradation of quality of sea water in the country making it quiet challenging forachieving goal number 14. The major sources of marine pollution includes:-

(1)Coastal Population

(2)Industrial Waste

(3)Damage to Mangroves

(4)Hydrogen Sulfides impact

The industrial ports, the transportation activities and increase in population at the coastal sides of Pakistan is one of the major source of marine pollution in the waters of the country. The discharge of the shipping process on the ports of Pakistan increases the water borne pollution and puts a profound impact on the marine environment. The sewerage issues because of 10 to 13 million population residing on the Karachi coastal area is the main source of marine pollution. In the same way, the industrial waste typically from the ship breaking industry, the steel mills complex, various oil refineries and different coastal power plants significantly contributes to the marine pollution. Less than 20% of the waste water is treated as the industrial waste water carries various metals such as Chromium and later find its way towards the sea ultimately contaminating the sea water along with the fishes. Many of the countries of the world have stopped exporting fishes from Pakistan because of increasing marine pollution.

Moreover, mangroves are getting damaged on the coastal sides which actually plays an important role in managing and absorbing the carbon dioxide and also acts as natural barrier against all the waves and tidal surges. Unfortunately, the mangroves are getting damaged on the coastal areas of the country due to which marine pollution is increasing day by day.Similarly, the toxicity of hydrogen sulfide which is released in the sea water ultimately causes the fishes and other marine life to death resulting in putting an impact on the life below sea water.


Gone are those days when sea water was used to be clear enough that the marine life inside was visible to everyone. The damage which is putting the profound impact on the sea water through thermal pollution, oil pollution and plastic pollution is mainly because of lack of study and material available on damage to marine life. Though Pakistan is signatory to SDGs and various other agreements but still there is no practical implications for protecting the life below sea water. Many of the platforms are available in the country for all other actors like poverty, climate change but unfortunately there is no such platform for discussing the threats and challenges to the goal 14 within the government along with the civil society.

The major initiatives has been taken from Ministry of Planning Commission and Reform regarding goal 14 by typically focusing on Karachi Shipyard which catches the attention of international companies because of its huge potential. Yet again the problem lies on the point of not getting the feedback from all other ministries regarding the working on goal 14 as the absence of various stakeholders is making it quiet challenging for Pakistan to achieve this goal. The actual setup in the form of National Action Plan (NAP) for protection of Marine Life, Marine Pollution Board, Sindh Wild Life etc exists in the country but there have been no implementation for the protection of marine life. The lack of connectivity between the Federal and Provincial governments after the 18th amendment in the constitution had made it difficult to address such important concerns. Such a strategy should be adopted for dealing with untreated industrial waste, control over the shipping wastes along side the plastic waste on the coastal areas which are causing a huge damage to marine life.

The need to act on achieving the Goal 14 is urgent and crucial for Pakistan because the improved marine life would definitely boost tourism and economic position of Pakistan in many different dimensions. If not taken this issue seriously, so it would be appropriate to say that the sea carrying nations are actually sea blind nations.

— The writer is political science student at the Kinnaird College For Women University Lahore