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Pollution threatening caspian sea ecosystem

NOWSHAHR, Mazandaran Province, Iran, October 31, 1999, (IRNA) -- a group of marine experts in this northern province believe that absence of a unified legal regime for the Caspian Sea has caused pollution and is threatening the ecosystem in the region.

The experts stress that formulation of a legal regime and collective cooperation of the littoral states can prevent flow of microbic and radioactive pollutants as well as agricultural chemicals to the sea. Underlining efforts for preventing flow of pollutants into the sea as a vital issue, they called on the officials to take precautionary measures in this connection.

Dr. Abbas Esmaili told IRNA that some of the chemical substances which pollute the Caspian sea run into the sea with the flow of agricultural and industrial wastes from the southern side.

He said that exploitation of oil resources under the sea bed by Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan has further added to the pollution of themarine environment.

Esmaili further remarked that cooperation and coordination among the littoral states for exploitation of the caspian resources should take into consideration the ecological diversity and standards for preserving those species of aquatics which are on the verge of extinction.

He said despite the high risk threatening the ecosystem of the sea, efforts should be made to survive the marine life by protecting costal rivers against pollutants within the country.

The negative effects that oil platforms and shipment of oil products leave on the ecosystem of the Caspian sea should be controlled through proper measures, he suggested.  

Dr. Behrouz Abtahi, an ichthyologist of the Caspian, said that in addition to the oil and industrial pollution, uncontrolled construction of dams and bridges in the past few decades has also aggravated pollution to the extent that special species of fish such as sturgeon, is threatened by extinction.

He said 85 to 90 percent of the world sturgeon fish is obtained through the Caspian sea which yields 95 percent of the world black caviar.

Abtahi underlined the importance of renovation of the banks and edges of rivers inside iran which flow to the Caspian sea as well as support for fish culture programs as effective steps towards saving the species threatened with extinction.

Some old residents of the provincial cities of Nowshahr and Ramsar say that about half a century ago rowers could hardly travel in the sea due to the large quantity of sturgeon fish. However, they say the number of fish has dropped to as low as one percent as compared to the past.

In recent months all the fish caught in the vicinity of Nowshahr port city have been contaminated with oil pollutants.

According to the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), waste waters contaminated with controllable agricultural pesticides should be processed prior to entering the landlocked seas.

Some 40 billion liters of waste waters contaminated with chemical, radioactive and industrial pollutants from volga river in the Russian Federation and one million liters of chemicals and oil substances from kura river in the republic of Azerbaijan flow into the Caspian sea annually.