World Turtle Day and International Day for Biological Diversity 2014 Cleaner beaches must for greater protection to marine turtles

Sameer Nazir
IUCN Pakistan under the USAID Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Programme funded ‘Saving the Endangered Sea Turtles’ Project jointly organized the World Turtle Day and International Day for Biological Diversity 2014 at Sandspit Beach Karachi today. The event was organized by IUCN in collaboration with ICIMOD.

The event commenced with Beach Cleaning Competition at the Sandspit Beach involving children from the five schools of the coastal areas. During the beach cleaning activity approximately two tons of litter was collected and disposed of to create safe nesting place for the turtles during the ensuing breeding season. Later a turtle quiz programme was conducted to create awareness amongst the children about the turtles and the threats facing them. The event was attended by representatives of the Sindh Wildlife Department, WWF-Pakistan; ICI Pakistan; Fisherfolks of Kaka Pir village; and Women Moti Mala Tanzeem.

In the opening remarks, Ghulam Qadir Shah, Mangrove for the Future Programme, National Coordinator said: “turtles are an important part of our biodiversity. Highlighting the significance of the Sandspit and Hawksbay beaches, he said that these beaches are amongst the 11 most important turtle nesting grounds in the world. According to the past statistics, around 6,000 Green Turtles used to visit these beaches during the breeding seasons, but their numbers have dwindled over the years due to various threats – including entanglement in fishing nets, habitat degradation and littering of the nesting beaches. Leftover food at the beaches results in increase of predators’ population that hunts on the hatched baby turtles while crawling towards the sea.

On this occasion, a message of Dr. David Molden, the Director General of International Centre Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) related to the International Day for Biodiversity was also read out, which stressed upon reinforcing global commitments for biodiversity conservation to ensure continuity of provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services of biodiversity resources.

Speaking on the occasion, Amar Guriro, President, National Council of the Environmental Journalists (NCEJ) emphasized on increasing the environmental reporting in the mainstream media. Sharing the statistics of a recent survey conducted by the NCEJ, he informed that 80% of the media outflow comprises crime and political news, and only a fraction of it is dedicated to environment. He lamented that many of the top print and electronic media entities do not have environment as a priority beat, and NCEJ was striving towards this end by promoting environmental journalism for highlighting the environmental issues of the country.

Naveed Soomro, Manager Wetland Centre, WWF-P highlighted the need to conserve sea turtles and other biodiversity resources.

Awards were distributed amongst the winning schools and certificates were distributed amongst the participating schools at the closing of the event.

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