By Faranak Bakhtiari

Gorgan Bay: a late solution to speed up valuable reserve’s demise

November 16, 2020 - 18:49

TEHRAN – The latest assessment of the National Cartographic Center shows that more than one hundred square kilometers of the Gorgan Bay has dried up, and delay in finding a solution will accelerate the destruction of the valuable reserve.

Covering an area of about 400 square kilometers, the Gulf of Gorgan also known as Gorgan Bay is the largest gulf in the Caspian Sea. It is located at the south-eastern shore of the Caspian Sea near the cities of Behshahr, Gorgan, and Sari and is separated from the main water body by the Miankaleh peninsula and extends until the Ashuradeh peninsula.

Experts on climate change and global warming believe that uncontrolled water withdrawal of aquifers, reduced rainfall, and increased evaporation are the most important reasons for the drying up of Gorgan Bay.

According to the latest scientific data presented by the National Cartographic Center, the drying rate of Gorgan Bay is worrisome.

Covering an area of about 400 square kilometers, the Gulf of Gorgan also known as Gorgan Bay is the largest gulf in the Caspian Sea. While uncontrolled water withdrawal of aquifers, reduced rainfall, and increased evaporation caused 100 square kilometers of the reserve to dry up, which means that 27 percent of the bay is lost over the recent years.Faezeh Salami, a cartographic expert, said that the Bay’s area amounted to 400 square kilometers, 100 square kilometers of which have dried up, which means that 27 percent of the bay is lost over the recent years.

For each centimeter decrease of the water level of the Caspian Sea, about one square kilometer of the area of Gorgan Bay has shrunk; so that with the increasing trend of global warming and climate change, sea level reduction, the need for continuous monitoring of the Caspian Sea and Gorgan Bay is more important.

How to survive?

Hamid Alizadeh Lahijani, the president of the national institute for oceanography and atmospheric science, said that lack of attention to the reduction of the Bay level due to factors such as the Caspian Sea shrinking level, closure of communication routes, high accumulated sediments, and seagrass growth will turn this bay into an inland wetland.

The rate of evaporation is twice as much as the amount of rainfall, and the inflow of rivers entering the Bay, even under natural conditions, is not enough to compensate for its water shortage. Under these circumstances, facilitating the exchange of water in Gorgan Bay from natural routes is necessary to prevent the dryness, he explained.

Issa Kalantari, head of the Department of Environment also in October announced the management and rehabilitation of Miankaleh wetland and Gorgan Bay as one of the priorities of the national headquarters for wetlands conservation and management and emphasized the Caspian Sea inflow into Gorgan Bay.

Kalantari also considered the use of new technologies and especially remote sensing knowledge in determining the exact volume of reservoir water in the country's wetlands in order to grant the water right of the wetlands and determining the ecological effects of water fluctuations, as well as data produced in different months of the year.

$2m earmarked to revive Gulf of Gorgan

However, earlier in July, a budget of 9 trillion rials (nearly $2.1 million at the official rate of 42,000 rials) has been earmarked to revive the Gulf of Gorgan.

The Ports and Maritime Organization, the Department of Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Energy are tasked with taking executive measures to save Gorgan Bay within 5 years.

According to the oceanographic studies, the most important solution to save Gorgan Bay is dredging canals, dredging the rivers leading to the Gulf of Gorgan, and providing water rights of the rivers will be other executive strategies to save the Gulf.

Valuable ecological complex in the world

Gorgan Bay was designated as a Ramsar site (defined by the Ramsar Convention for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value) along with Miankaleh Wetland.

The bay and its surrounding area are recognized as a valuable ecological complex in the world which had a direct impact on the livelihood of local communities in addition to conserving the marine life cycle.

Ashuradeh Island, which hosts a variety of native and migratory birds throughout the year, was also introduced and registered as one of the world's first biosphere zones in 1975.

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