Sensitization and awareness are important elements in natural resources conservation strategies across the globe. As elsewhere, the coastal and marine resources of Pakistan are subject to relentless degradation resulting from human actions, poor governance and a lack of awareness and knowledge on values of coastal resources.
Approximately, 90,000 tons/year oily discharge from ships and more than 400 million gallons/day of industrial and municipal effluent is discharged in harbor areas. A large portion of 8000-10000 tons solid waste generated in urban areas along coast also finds its way to the harbors. Half of the original mangrove cover has been lost over the past few decades. Being a naval force, Pakistan Navy (PN) is facing impacts of this degradation in the form of higher maintenances costs of their vessels due to pollution in harbors and loss of strategically important mangroves.
Realizing the need to inculcate a sense of ownership, PN implemented a project focusing on creation of awareness on coastal and marines resources and environmental issues among their units under the MFF Programme. The objectives of project were to make PN officials environmentally conscious, encourage conservation practices in naval operations and sustain conservation efforts beyond the project life.
Under the project several awareness tools such as, seminars, expert lectures, beach cleaning activities, environmental quizzes and poster competitions were employed. The project benefited nearly 12000 participants representing different Pakistan Navy operated institutions through implementation of sensitization and awareness raising activities.
Influenced by awareness campaign run under the project, directives were issued by the Naval Chief for compliance of environmentally friendly practices and guidelines in coastal and marine areas of Pakistan. One such directive articulates, ‘Commanding officers of ships and marines are to ensure compliance of all environmental protection measures at sea and harbor whether in own waters or international waters’.
The novice engagement of a security agency in implementation of an awareness project has led to increasing focus on addressing coastal issues, and encouraged the Ministry of Defence to opt for membership of MFF-Pakistan National Coordinating Body. The interest voiced by these agencies to coordinate with other coastal stakeholders is of strategic significance to advance the objectives of integrated coastal management, with potential opportunities for lessons generated from such engagement being replicated at the regional scale.
Directives from Chief of Naval Staff, Pakistan, Karachi © MFF, 2013