Published On: Sun, Nov 15th, 2015

Sea rise and the fisherman’s lament

Abdul Hafeez

KARACHI: Deeply absorbed in making fishing net outside his house in scorching heat, Muhammad is not sure for how long he will be staying in Chashma Goth, where he has lived since his birth 40 years ago.

“Each year, seawater submerges our village and stays here for months. We then move to that hill and wait for the water to recede,” he tells The Nature News, pointing towards a nearby hill while wiping beads of sweat from the forehead with his sleeve.

Muhammad, a father of two, says this was not so until a few years back. But now, inundation of the historical fishermen village in Karachi has become frequent, forcing the villagers to think about migration.

Muhammad Ali Shah says sea rise has affected the livelihood, health, education, and even traditions of the coastal communities.

Muhammad Ali Shah says sea rise has affected the livelihood, health, education, and even traditions of the coastal communities.

“It takes months for us to resettle in our houses once the village is dried up. We don’t even have any livelihood during the process of temporary migration and resettlement,” he says. “In the evening I sit at a teashop, but I can’t afford a cup of tea.”

Similarly, Ahmed Hassan, a 25-year-old resident of Rehri Goth, a village only a kilometre away from Chashma Goth, says they suffer immensely during sea rise but do not migrate as they have no other place to move to.

There are hundreds of villages along Pakistan’s 1,046km-long coastline that extends 750kms in Balochistan, and over 250kms in Sindh.

Chairman Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum Muhammad Ali Shah says sea rise has affected the livelihood, health, education, and even traditions of the coastal communities.

“Our women are forced to work in factories and bungalows to earn livelihood,” he says.

Shah says in Bala Miani, a small coastal village in Balochistan, rising sea level has submerged large
chunks of land and jetty is no longer located where it used to be a few years back.

“Though sea level rise is a worldwide phenomenon caused by global warming due to emission of greenhouse gases and melting of glaciers, the world is doing little to prevent it from destroying nature,” says the PFF chairman.

The inundation of the historical fishermen village in Karachi has become frequent, forcing the villagers to think about migration.

The inundation of the historical fishermen village in Karachi has become frequent, forcing the villagers to think about migration.

According to Shah, acidification reduces the amount of oxygen in the sea, forcing the marine life to move to distant waters.

“Fishermen community suffers the most as they have to travel far in the sea, yet sometimes they return with insufficient catch.”

“We are destroying the nature in the name of sustainable development,” adds the PFF representative.
Shah terms mangroves to be “natural bulwarks against cyclones and tsunamis and good habitat for marine life but could not survive due to sea level rise – do not grow in stalled water.”

Mangroves, in large quantities, were cut by authorities, as well as land mafia along the Karachi coastline,” the PFF chairman claims.

Manager World Wild Fund for Nature-Pakistan Ali Dehlvi says they have recorded migration due to sea rise in different parts of Sindh and Balochistan.

“Moving to another place is disturbing and difficult for coastal communities. People are comfortable at what they do, where they live. It is often hard to catch up with life at another place,” he tells The Nature News.

Rapid Onset and Slow Onset, explains Dehlvi, are the two kinds of sea level rise, of which the latter occurs gradually.

“We may not be contributing to global warming through industrial growth, but we surely are adding to
pollution by deforestation,” says an environmental journalist, who wished not to be named.

Cartoon with English Logo-01

This article has been published in arrangement with NCEJ as part of its training in Karachi on “Reporting impacts of climate change on communities.”

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