Fishermen have expressed concern over the large-scale death of fish at the Karachi coast. They demanded of the concerned authorities to conduct a survey to learn the actual reasons behind the death of the fish and to take effective steps to address the problem.

Hundreds of dead fish, including Mullet, Bohi and other species, have been seen at the seashore near Baba, Bhit, Shamspir and Salehabad islands, the premises of Karachi Fish Harbour (KFH) and other coastal villages for the last couple of days.

Officials in the the Marine Fisheries Department reveal that the increasing marine pollution could be the main reason of this loss. They said that the sea received chemical and industrial waste through different channels, which could be the main factor behind the death of the fish.

A local activist of Baba Island, Rafiq Parhyar, told The News that the villagers have witnessed that, after every two months, they find a large number of dead fish near their island villages and jetties.

He claimed that the factory trawlers, operating near the country's coast, may trash un-sellable fish back into the sea, which is also a form of pollution that destroys marine species.

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) Chairman, Mohammed Ali Shah, said: "We have already approached the government authorities to conduct a survey to identify the actual reason of this loss, but, in return, did not receive a positive response."

He said that it was a great loss and that, if the authorities did not take steps to address the problem immediately, it might push the fishermen's community into unemployment.

He said it was a serious matter, which should be resolved on a priority basis. The use of destructive nets, increasing marine pollution and factory trawlers might be the causes of this loss.

Shah said that they had sent different teams towards the beaches to assess the actual loss of fish and find the causes. However, he said, it was actually the responsibility of the state to find out the reasons.

He said that the fish stock had already been wiped out along the country's coast due to over-fishing and pollution hence this unimaginable loss of fish required a proper probe.

Local fishermen said that they had never witnessed this kind of loss of fish in the past, and added that it was now unbelievable how often it was happening. They also pointed out that the flowing of industrial waste might be the main reason behind the destructive phenomenon.

'It's a natural phenomenon'

Rashid Yahya Usmani, Chief Marine Engineer, Marine Pollution Control Department said this was no unusual occurrence and was referred to as the "Red Tide" phenomenon.

This, he explained, is when toxic red algae detaches from the bottom of the sea floor and rises towards the surface. The red colour attracts schools of nugile fish, which is known among the locals as Mori fish. The fish eats this algae and washes ashore dead. All of these fish are of the same size.

He added that nearly all of the dead fish had been skimmed off the water and were being transported to landfills - the Jungle Shah plot in Keamari, and a landfill in Surjani Town. The fish will be buried in the morning to prevent its use as poultry feed which could in turn affect humans when the poultry or its products are consumed by the people.

Usmani claimed that humans ingesting water during swimming in such waters will not be affected by the algae, nor will any water vessels be affected. However, fishermen may have to look elsewhere for a catch for some time.