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Cyclone Kyarr leads to increase in plastic pollution along Balochistan coast

Karachi, 2 November 2019: The category 5 super-cyclone Kyarr (04A) generated higher than usual waves in the central Arabian Sea resulting in the inundation of many villages in Keti Bunder and creek areas along the Indus Delta.  Similarly, areas along the coast of Karachi including Ibrahim Hyderi, Lath Basti, and Rehri came under seawater resulting in damage to houses and other properties. The effect of cyclone Kyarr was more evident along the Balochistan coast where all major settlements were inundated. This included the coastal villages of Gaddani, Sonmiani and Damb in Lasbela district where water caused damage to infrastructure. Likewise, some areas of Ormara, Pasni, Sur and Gwadar in Makran division were also affected. The most significant impact of super-storm Kyarr was felt by the coastal town of Gunz located near Jiwani. Although this super-cyclone was the strongest since Gonu in the year 2007, it brought rain to southern Oman and Somalia.
A WWF-Pakistan team was dispatched to assess the damage in Gunz and reported that receding waves took along a large number of fishing nets abandoned by fishermen. It also washed away a large number of nets, which were stored on the shore. Additionally, receding waters dumped plastic waste, consisting mainly of polythene bags and other plastic debris, along the berm of the settlement.
According to Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Advisor (Marine Fisheries), WWF-Pakistan it is not possible to estimate the quantity of plastic garbage and fishing nets that have washed away but these will certainly add to ghost fishing and plastic pollution in the sea. Khan said that when such abandoned nets enter the sea, negatively impacting marine life, which becomes entangled in them, and are therefore known as ghost nets. ‘It is a serious menace, which can increase because of careless dumping of used and abandoned nets in the sea,’ he added.
Sudheer Ahmad, Coordinator, WWF-Pakistan posted at Jiwani Information Centre visited other coastal settlements to assess the damage. He pointed out that water had inundated almost all coastal settlements including Bandri, Gunz, Jiwani and Pushukan but the major damage occurred in Gunz, which included washing away of garbage and plastic nets into the sea. Fishermen are concerned about the issue, as Gunz is an important fishing ground for lobsters and other coastal fishes.  As a result, ghost fishing is expected to increase.  He, however, pointed out that local administration is building a protective wall and strengthening the beachfront to save the settlement from any future weather related events such as approaching cyclone Maha. He stressed that in addition to beach protection a campaign of removing ghost nets from the area should be initiated.
© WWF-Pakistan
Plastic Pollution through inundation of water at Gunz