Largest amount of plastic waste enters Caspian Sea by Iran

August 8, 2018

TEHRAN – Among the Caspian Sea states, Iran discharges the lion’s share of plastic waste into the sea, the deputy head of the Department of Environment (DOE) for marine affairs has said.

Parvin Farshchi made the remarks in Tehran on Thursday on the occasion of Caspian Sea Day 2018, with a theme of “fight plastic pollution’s giant on the Caspian coast,” IRNA reported.

The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed inland body of water on Earth by area. It is bounded by Kazakhstan to the northeast, Russia to the northwest, Azerbaijan to the west, Iran to the south, and Turkmenistan to the southeast. The sea has a surface area of 371,000 square kilometers and a volume of 78,200 cubic kilometers.

Caspian Sea Day, which is annually observed by the Caspian Sea states on August 12, aims to raise awareness about the environmental ramifications of human interference with this valuable ecosystem. The day marks the Framework Convention, also called Tehran Convention, signed by the official representatives of the five littoral Caspian states namely Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation and Turkmenistan in Tehran on November 4, 2003. 

“A scheme will be piloted in Mazandaran province on August 16-25, which elicits public participation in collecting plastic waste,” she stated.

“Based on the scheme, each participant delivering plastic waste will receive tickets and prizes will be given to the holders of ticket drawn at random,” she added. 

The purpose of the scheme is to introduce waste sorting to citizens and inform them of damages plastic pollution brings to the nature, Farshchi said. 

The Caspian Sea water level changes 

Referring to the disagreement over the Caspian Sea level of water, Farshchi said, some experts believe on a 42 cm rise in the Caspian Sea water levels by 2020, while other experts warn that the Caspian Sea water level will decrease in the coming years.

Whether it increases or lowers, Gorgan Bay and Miankaleh wetland, located in the south-eastern part of the Caspian Sea, are in critical condition which need a precise decision to revitalize, she highlighted.

Pointing to the different approaches about the Caspian Sea water level, she noted that it is essential to reach a single approach that help those working in the field of Caspian Sea to prepare development plans for the future.

To do so, a special working group on determining the Caspian Sea water level must be formed with the presence of all responsible bodies, she suggested.

 Integrated management of the Caspian Sea not possible 

Elsewhere in her remarks, she said that managing the Caspian Sea through an integrated framework cannot happen, as the Caspian littoral states have different interests and we can only integrate with each other on mutual issues and interests.

 Meteorological Organization inefficient 

Meanwhile, the Meteorological Organization is the representative of Iran in the Coordinating Committee on Hydrometeorology and Pollution Monitoring of the Caspian Sea (CASPCOM), which unfortunately has failed to do the tasks well, she regretted.

So, a working group is needed to be the scientific arm of the Meteorological Organization in pursuit of issues related to CASPCOM, she went on to say. 

CASPCOM was established in 1994 by the national hydro meteorological agencies (NMHSs) of the Caspian littoral states with the support of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with a view to coordinating, standardizing, cooperating in and improving in the fields of hydrometeorology and pollution monitoring of the Caspian Sea. 

The Caspian Sea in critical condition by 2100

Homayoun Khoshravan head of Caspian Sea national research center affiliated to the Ministry of Science said that the Caspian Sea is not expected to have a good future by 2100.

Referring to the fact that drying wetlands are a main concern for coastal provinces in the twenty-first century, he regretted that over 95 percent of the Miankaleh wetland is drained.

“According to the statistics and surveys, there is a potential for sand and dust storm in the area due to the dryness of the wetlands,” he added.

He explained that oil pollution, illegal construction erosion and destruction of beaches are the major issues the Caspian Sea ecosystem is facing. 

Oil and gas extraction, exploitation of natural habitats and tourism attractions are among the opportunities Caspian Sea can create, while countries such as Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan are actively engaged in the development of ports, as well as oil and gas exploitation in coastal part of the sea.

Global warming has increased water temperature on the surface of the sea, which has also led to an increase in evaporation and decrease in the Caspian Sea water level.

The Majlis (Iranian Parliament) must consolidate the Caspian Sea territory according to its natural conditions, therefore, it is necessary to review the old laws and regulation concerning the sea, he suggested.

FB/MQ/MG

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