Shipbreaking Activities in Bangladesh and collision of Marine Biodiversity Prabal Barua Associate Program Officer YPSA The marine environment of the coastal water is vital to mankind on a global as well as on local basis concerning energy. Man is becoming a dominant part of the ecosystem in many regions, due to his various uses of the marine environment. So the health of marine ecosystem is an important factor in man own existence.
The Bay of Bengal which is a potential bode of marine life as well as for it’s vast coastal communities is now continually polluted by different types of pollutant through influx of land base and other sources and put an alarming signal of awareness about pollution in the sea. The coastal areas of Chittagong Support a complex trophic organization sustain a high biodiversity including some endemic species and are highly susceptible to interference from activities. Coastal ecosystem makes a sustainable livelihood particularly to coastal fishing communities.
Ship breaking yards along the coast of Chittagong (Faujdarhat to Kumira) has become a paramount importance in the macro-and micro-economic context of poverty- stricken Bangladesh. Shipbreaking activities present both challenge and opportunity for coastal zone management in holistic manner. The history of ship breaking is as nearly old as shipbuilding. As we know that a ship is relatively a large vessel capable of operating in the deep ocean. The term ‘vessels’ applies to the vessels of over 5000 tons and that can navigate in open seas.
In Bangladesh ship breaking is popularly known as ‘Beaching’. Ship breaking started as a business in Bangladesh in 1972. Prior to that, 2/3 ships were scrapped during Pakistan period. It started automatically when a 20000 DWT vessel was drive ashore by the devastating tidal bore of 1965. That was the first ship scrapped on the 2 Chittagong sea beach. At present, ship breaking is conducted in an area of about 10 km by 32 out of 110 ship Breaking yards from Bhatiari, Sonaichhari, kumira under the Sitakunda upazilla of Chittagong.
The Department of Environment (DoE) has categorized the Ship Breaking Industry (SBI) as ‘Red’ in 1995(EIA guidelines for the Industries, 1997). The Environmental Impact assessment (EIA) is not conducted before the establishment of SBI. As there is no monitoring cell, the Shipyard owners are operating their business overwhelmingly as well as indiscriminately. They are less conscious about hazards, toxicity and environmental pollution whereas more conscious about their benefit. Wastes of the scrapped ships are discharged directly into its adjacent areas which are ultimately draining into the Bay of Bengal.
These wastes especially oil and oily substances, PCBs, TBTs, PAHs etc. and different types of trace and heavy metals (Cd, Pb, and Hg) are being accumulated into the marine biota. As a result, marine fisheries diversity of the Chittagong coast that supports highly diversified marine water fishes, mollusks and benthic organisms etc. is at the stake right at this moment. Moreover the Coastal inhabitants/fisher folks lead not only their livelihoods but also solely depend on the coastal resources for their protein source.
The CPUE (Catch Per Unit effort) has drastically been reduced to more than half comparatively of a few decades ago. As a consequence, the coastal fisher folks are at the stake of their existence. They are either leaving their hereditary profession or migrating to other places and becoming ‘environmental refugees’. That is why their socio-economic status is below the poverty level. There are few studies was done to find out the linkage between Ship breaking activity (SBA) and the marine pollution, impact on fisheries biodiversity and livelihoods of the fishermen community.
In those researches, investigators considered Bhatiary to Kumira as affected area and Sandwip Island as control area from the shipbreaking activity. The eastern side of Sandwip has been considered as control site because these are diagonally opposite and off the SBYs and the water and soil qualities are apparently free from pollutants as revealed from the earlier studies. From the previous analysis we found that trace metals concentration in sediments at shipbreaking area are so much higher than recommendation by GESAMP (Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution).
But the researchers found that Sandwip which is significantly very lower than that of sediments at affected area. The values of Lead (Pb), Cadmium(Cd) and Mercury(Hg) found six and half; eight and half and ninety four times higher than that of certified values respectively. These could be attributed to the combined effects of oil and oil spillage, petroleum hydrocarbons from ships, tankers, mechanized boats etc. During the investigation all the researcher found water qualities such as Hydrogen Ion H Concentration (p ), Dissolve Oxygen (D. O), Biochemical Oxygen Demand (B. O. D), Chemical Oxygen Demand (C. O.
D), Total Suspended Solid (TSS), Total Dissolved Solid (TDS), Oil and Ammonia (NH3) were concentrated as a higher value in affected area than control area according to the standard value of water quality for the coastal water of Bangladesh (EQS, 1991). All the parameters observed such a higher that they exceeded the value of EQS. But the water parameters in Sandwip channel were optimum and near to the value of EQS standard. Water qualities in affected area exceeded the EQS standard which reveals that the water body of the adjacent area of ship breaking yards is not suitable for the existence of flora and fauna.
The higher concentration was due to the discharge of various refuse oils and oily substances, dyes, chemicals, iron pieces, various types of metal rusts, solids, dyes, erosion of soil dust etc. from the ship breaking yards. Pollutants are also discharged from the Sitakunda industrial area into the run-off open to the Bay. Impact of Marine Biodiversity: Biodiversity, which is sort for biological diversity, is the term used to describe the whole variety of life on earth. In popular usage, the word biodiversity is often used to describe all the species living in a particular area.
Biodiversity can be summarized as “Life on earth. ” It is defined as “ The varieties of life on earth at all its levels, from genes to ecosystem, and the ecological and evolutionary processes that sustain it. ” The total biodiversity of an area can be broken down into two hierarchical components: the number of functional types of organisms (animals and plants) or ecosystems (forest, prairie, tundra and marine intertidal) and the number of functionally equivalent organisms within each functional type.
There are three types of aspects to biodiversity: species diversity, genetic diversity and ecosystem diversity. All three interact and change over time and from place to place. Phytoplankton is the primary food producers of the aquatic habitat and plays an important role in the food chain. Phytoplankton is the best index of the biological productivity. Analysis of phytoplankton showed that during monsoon, Aanabaena , Clostratrum(10. 98%) and Coscinodiscus(21. 97%), Euglena (9. 89%) and Zygnema (30. 76%) and during post monsoon Coscinodiscus (97. 5%) and Euglena (2. 5%) dominated in the affected site.
In the control site of Sandwip, these were dominated as 30. 41%, 19. 46%; 17. 03%; 9. 73%; 23. 35% in the monsoon and 94. 73% and 5. 26% respectively in the post monsoon. Throughout the study period the abundance of phytoplankton at affected site was 91 cells/ l in monsoon season and 80 cells/ l in post monsoon season and in control site it was 411 cells/l in monsoon season and 190 cells / l in post monsoon season. Drifting small floating animals, in the water body are collectively known as zooplankton on which the whole aquatic life depends directly or indirectly.
As zooplankton is very sensitive to optimum condition, so the coastal pollution due to ship breaking activities may have profound affects on its survival and occurrence. Analysis of zooplankton showed that Calanoida, Cyclopedia, Sagitta, Lucifer etc in the monsoon and Calanoida; Acetes shrimp; Lucifer and Zoea in the post monsoon were dominated in the affected site as revealed during zooplankton analysis whereas in the control site the dominant zooplankton were found as Calanoida, Cylpclpedia, Sagitta and Zoea during the post monsoon and Calanoida; Acetes shrimp, Lucifer, Cladocera and Zoea in the post monsoon respectively.
The bottom living organisms –the benthos play an important role in the food chain especially in the inter tidal zone and it is also well recognized that the richest fisheries of the world are closely related to the benthic communities. Among the macro benthos, Amphipods, Polychaetes, Nemertina and Fish egg in the monsoon and Nemertina, Cladocera, Cyclopoida and Calanoida were found to be dominated at the affected site.
But at the control site, Amphipod, Polychaete, Nemertina, Fish egg during the monsoon and Cladocera, Nemertina , Calanoida and Polychaete in the post monsoon were dominated So, the abundance of macro benthos in affected site was 118. 46 ind. / m3 in monsoon season and 4186. 74 ind. / m3 in post monsoon season, while in in the control site 368. 28 ind. / m3 in monsoon season and 14204. 41 ind. / m3 in post monsoon season.
The fishery resources of the area seems to be affected by the ship breaking activities as revealed by increased fishing efforts, reduced species diversity, increased amount of trash fish. Horizontal expansion of the ship breaking yards has posed threat not only to the diversified coastal resources but also on the adjacent coastal inhabitants specially the fisher folks. The fishing hamlets of this study were found backward in the field of primary education and health that are the basic needs for them.
Communication and drinking water supply were observed satisfactory but the sanitation status was found to be very poor. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) study showed that about 90% of them were local and full time fishermen and 10% were migratory of different districts including Bhola, Barisal, Mymensingh and others. The fisher folks are dissatisfied with different NGO activities working in this area. No government aid was found to be available for the welfare of fishermen communities.
The catch has declined in the tune of at least 50 to 60% of what was two decades ago. This incident has got serious implication in the context of survival of such a disgraced community. It was found that about 70% of the fishermen had either nets or boats or both of them. They use both mechanized and non-mechanized boats and some traditional fishing crafts (Dinghi) for fishing. Among the fishing nets Set Beg Net (Behundi Jal) and Gill Net (Ilish Jal) were found to be widely used.
Though the gears are available for fishing, they can catch a very little amount in every effort. They uniquely reported that the fish catch had been reduced more than half of the previous time. Analysis of catch composition indicates that some commercially important fishes like Indian salmon (Polynemus indicus) commonly known as Lakhua, grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) known as bole coral; Long jew fish (Otolithoides brunneus) locally known as lombu fish; pish mackerel (Cybium guttatum) known as maitta and butter fish (Psenes indicus) etc are in endangered position.
Some other commercially important fishes like River shad (Tenualusa ilisha) Jwelled shad (Ilisha filigera) locally known as choikka; mud skipper (Gobies); mango fish (Polynemus paradysius) known as ‘Hriska Machh’; silver pomfret (Stromateus chinensis); bombay duck (Herpodon nehereus); mullet ( Mugil cephalus); Sea bass (Lates calcarifer); Anchovy(Coilia dussumeri; Coilia ramkorati; Setipinna taty) etc are reduced in catch. Many coastal fishermen are leaving their hereditary profession and moving around everyday as ‘environmental refugees’ from a state of unemployed and poverty to underemployment and grim poverty.
Due to the deterioration of the water body, fishes are moving away from this area into the deep sea. But the poor fishermen with small fishing boats can hardly fish at deep seas the creditors and swindlers are taking this chances and rush to lend money and thus make them run into debt. The fishermen also reported that while they catch fish at sea they face piracy. They also face the muscle man, middle man and swindlers when they return with fewer amounts of fish.. These criminals snatch away the fishes forcefully. The fishermen are exploited by the dealers in dadon (earnest money).
It is made obligatory that the middleman determines the price of fish in the season of fish. They are to sell fish to the lenders at a nominal or throwaway price. The middlemen indulge in maintaining miscreants to exercise their authority over them. Before the season of fish they borrow 4/5 thousand Taka from the dadonders (Buyers cum earnest money lenders) to repair the boat which lead them run into debt. Generally the months of MarchApril-May (Falgoon-Chaitra-Baishakh) are the “season of scarcity” as reported by the fishermen during PRA survey.
At this time they require at least Tk. 4000/5000 to repair their boats, nets and for other incidental expenses. Most of the fishermen opined that Ship Breaking Activity (SBA) creates problems to them and the rest did not respond. Besides, 90% of the villagers of the vicinity were anxious about their existence in future. Their nets for the catching fish become stuck with oil and impurities. They suffer from respiratory difficulties, sonic booms, explosions, lightning, fumes, toxic chemicals and skin diseases.
It is clear from the sociological study that coastal fish species diversity has been reduced due to the ship breaking activities. The fishermen’s hereditary profession is now at the vulnerable position due to the Ship Breaking Activity (SBA); less access to credit etc. But the most interesting thing is that they are not conscious about their rights and deprivation. The increasing SBA is depleting the fishery resources which simultaneously decreasing catch per unit effort (CPUE). So this trend is provoking the fisher folks to change their livelihoods for what they never feel comfort and safe.
Land grabbing by the yard owners also occurs sometime. Expansion of the yard shrinks the area of the fishing villages. They have to leave their space with a very nominal price. They have rights over only 200 feet of the seashore where they dry nets and anchor boats. Erosion of the village by sea wave action threatened the fishing village’s decade after decade. It started in sixties and nearly half a kilometer of the village has disappeared into the sea. Now at least 20,000 people engaged in catching fish are at the stake of their existence.
Bangladesh is a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), 1992 and the Biosafety Protocol. Bangladesh is also a party to the Convention on international Trade in Endangered Species of Wild fauna and Flora (CITES). Bangladesh has a Marine Fisheries Ordinance 1983 (ordinance No XXXV) and under this ordinance government may declare any area of Bangladesh fisheries waters and any adjacent or surrounding land to be a marine reserve (Part VII). So, if government will declare Sandwip channel and its adjacent area as a marine reserve area for fisheries biodiversity it will be.
Besides, there are many laws, rules and polices in Bangladesh to conserve marine biodiversity such as The territorial water and maritime zones act (1974) and rules (1977), The forest act (1917), Environment Conservation Act (1995), Protection and Conservation of Fish rules (1985), national fish policy (1996), the water policy (1999), the environment policy (1992). If we conserve our diversify marine biodiversity it will be urgent need to establish environment friendly Shipbreaking activity in Bangladesh.
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