According to the public relations office of Persian Gulf and Oman Sea Ecology Research Institute - Bandar Abbas, on the occasion of the Persian Gulf National Day, a specialized scientific meeting with a speech by Dr. Sharif Rouhani, Advisor and Deputy Director of Iranian Fisheries Science Research Institute, Dr. Taghavi, Advisor to the President, Dr. Lak, Director of the Research Institute for Earth Sciences and Dr. Mortazavi, Head of the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea Ecology Research Institute, with the presence of heads and experts of research centers affiliated with Iranian Fisheries Science Research Institute, experts and managers of executive organizations like fisheries institutes and Hormozgan Department of Environment and a large number of academic members and students was held virtually on May 10 under the management of the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea Ecology Research Institute.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Sharif Rouhani, congratulating the National Day of Persian Gulf, described this aquatic ecosystem with strategic reserves, the third largest gulf in the world with an area of about 240,000 square kilometers and an average depth of 36 meters and a maximum of 94 meters surrounded by 8 countries.
He pointed out that this region is the main road of the world's oil carriers with more than 800 platforms and oil and gas facilities and 25 oil terminals and traffic of about 25,000 large tankers that transport about 60% of the world's oil through the Strait of Hormuz. "The presence of large military bases and vessels, the movement of nuclear submarines and naval maneuvers can cause fragility and limitation of this ecosystem," he said. It is also said that after the Vietnam War, the worst environmental damage was caused by the Iraq-Kuwait war in 1991, which led to the entry of more than 10 million barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf ecosystem with an area of 700 square kilometers.
Dr. Sharif Rouhani pointed to the high economic growth in the region due to the existence of oil reserves and ecotourism and added: "The UAE has created the world's largest artificial island on its shores, which has changed land borders and caused great stress to the region's ecosystem.”. At the same time, high traffic of ships, tankers and fuel vessels, depletion of ships' ballast water and the presence of desalination plants affecting water salinity, destruction of marine aquatic habitats, mangrove forests and coral reefs are other ecological risks for the Persian Gulf ecosystem.
Dr. Sharif Rouhani considered the lack of treatment or incomplete treatment of municipal and industrial wastewater in the neighboring countries, the existence and development of nuclear power plants, global warming and climate change as other threatening factors of the Persian Gulf ecosystem.
Referring to the weakening of relations with ROPME, this official called for continued cooperation between the countries of Persian Gulf to produce and exchange information in various fields, especially pollutants, fishing, invasive aquatic species, the effects of climate change, culture, education and promotion, development of non-governmental organizations and development of scientific societies. He called it necessary to reform the governance of the exploitation of Persian Gulf reserves to move towards a green economy and maintain the stability of the Persian Gulf ecosystem, the union of countries in the region and legislation to pay green taxes for all marine pollutants and industries, He added that the tax should be spent on developing research, monitoring and rebuilding reserves.
Dr. Sharif Rouhani said that the fishing is currently above the recoverable capacity, which has been overshadowed by political issues and social problems. He also mentioned the need to maintain the environmental health of the mangrove ecosystem and coral islands and continued: "In the field of aquaculture development, especially fish farming in cages, it was mentioned that the development of this industry should be done with careful studies and constant monitoring. Also, uneaten food and wastes should be managed and eliminated in order to have sustainable ecosystems and production. For each ton of farmed fish produced in sea cages, 44 kg of nitrogen is produced. 20 micrograms per liter of nitrogen is harmful to mangrove trees and coral reefs. Farmed fish waste, medicinal chemicals used in cages, accumulation of organic matter are some of the significant cases in fish farming industry in cages, which can cause algal blooms in the area."
Referring to the capabilities of Iranian Fisheries Science Research Institute, he emphasized: "This institute along with three other research institutes and their affiliated research stations on the northern shores of Persian Gulf and 10 research institutes and research centers in other provinces has very valuable scientific activities and plays a key role in maintaining and the protection of Persian Gulf ecosystem.
Dr. Taghavi, the consultant of the institute talked about the necessity of socio-economic analysis of fishing for shrimp vessels in the waters of Persian Gulf. He referred to the organizational frameworks of socio-economic studies at three levels of before production, during and after production, and considered the environmental, social, economic and governance components in these studies necessary. Among the indicators of the social sector he pointed at food security, income from fisheries, protein, livelihood dependence and the amount of fish produced from fisheries.
According to Dr. Taghavi, fishing in the sea, fishing in inland waters, breeding warm-water and cold-water fish, marine culture and shrimp farming are indicators of the environmental sector and the amount of employment, investment, income and export. The cost of fishing and aquaculture production are indicators of the economic sector.
Dr. Taghavi, said that factors such as fishing pressure, illegal fishing, climate change and diversity, loss of social capital, advances in science and technology, distortions of supply and demand systems, physical infrastructure, health services and overall population change affect fishing and aquaculture. He considered the indicators of governance role including policies related to the transfer of management rights and responsibilities, participation of civil institutions, rights of fishermen and fish farmer, tenure and diversity and characteristics of influential institutions, and further, said that fishing units in the country include benthic, large pelagic fish, shrimp, small pelagic fish, Lanternfish, kilka fish, bony fish and sturgeon fishing and various aquaculture units include salmon, sturgeon, warm-water fish farming, cage farming and shrimp farming.
He referred to the important need for socio-economic data and information to assess the cost structure and efficiency of the fishing economy, livelihood conditions and employment in fishing, profitability, investment and demography and ownership structure in fishing, and said: “Information of Socio-economic studies is used to provide appropriate solutions to resolve conflicts, food security and comprehensive development of fisheries planning and management, improve fishermen's income, rebuild reserves, promote equity in the distribution of employment and income, participate in increasing fish production and supply it to people.”
Dr. Taghavi stated that the conducted study shows the variables of achieving the evaluation objectives are floating ownership, fishing effort, employment, fish trade, variable costs, fixed costs, investment, debt and subsidies, income and demography. He said that components of Socio-economic study are based on the questionnaire including 12 paragraphs and about 75 questions, which he then explained in detail. Dr. Taghavi referred to the results of the number of shrimp vessels in Hormozgan and Bushehr provinces in 2018 according to FAO standards in different classes, personnel costs, number of permanent and temporary employees, fishing rate, fuel cost of vessels, maintenance costs, per capita income of each vessel and the average age of employed personnel and their level of education, and then presented a comparison table of Bushehr and Hormozgan provinces.
Dr. Mortazavi, who described the situation of chemical pollutants in the Persian Gulf ecosystem, pointed to the semi-closed and low water cycle in this ecosystem, which leads to more effective anthropogenic processes. In addition to the direct entry of industrial, domestic and water desalination units effluents, in some Persian Gulf countries such as Iraq and Iran, chemical pollutants are poured into the Persian Gulf ecosystem through permanent and seasonal rivers.
In another part of his speech, he mentioned population growth, economic and industrial development, creation and development of oil and gas industries, electricity generation, agriculture, maritime transport, oil spills and leaks as factors causing pollution in this ecosystem. Eventually, these pollutants enter the biological cycle of marine organisms and consequently endanger human health, because the pouring of pollutants into the sea leads to the water column involvement in chemical reactions, sedimentation and the entry of marine food chain.
Dr. Mortazavi pointed out that the share of studies on heavy metals in Iran is 71%, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE a total of 12%, Bahrain and Qatar each 8%, and among the 22 metals and elements studied, the most studies were related to Lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury, and the fish studied were common grouper, sturgeon, strainer and milk.
He continued: "Studies on organic pollutants are limited and the origin of polyaromatic compounds of hydrocarbons as an important part of organic pollutants, municipal and industrial wastewater enters directly or through rivers into the Persian Gulf, which in most cases has concentrations below the values of regional and global standards, but sometimes we are faced with scattered hotspots of accumulation of this large family of pollutants.”
In another part of his speech about the pollution caused by microplastics, Dr. Mortazavi said: “Suspended plastic particles with a size of less than five millimeters are known as microplastics and their origin is very diverse and can be from municipal and industrial wastewater and waste disposal sites and enter the human body directly or through the food cycle. The impact of microplastics on marine ecosystems is wide, these substances can absorb chemical pollutants and after entering the internal organs of marine organisms and then hunting, they enter the human food cycle. Microplastics in most fish affect organs, including muscles, kidneys, swim bladder, ovaries, stomach, intestines, liver, lungs, and brain.
Dr. Mortazavi continued: "Studies on microplastics in the Persian Gulf are less than the rest of the world." Most microplastics studies are in marine water and sediments (44%), aquatics (28%), terrestrial environment (12%), freshwater (9%) and wastewater (7%).
In conclusion, he discussed the achievements of joint research between the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea Ecology Research Institute and Iran National Science Foundation under the title of comprehensive assessment of the environmental pollution of Persian Gulf with emphasis on mangrove habitats and coral islands.
Dr. Lak, Associate Professor of Research Institute of Earth Sciences, addressed the geological risks of Persian Gulf coasts and pointed out the need to pay attention to it in management planning. He considered sea level rise, sediment-related risks, coastal pollution and fine dust as the most important dangers and reminded of the need to manage them.
In the second part of the meeting, the speakers answered the questions of the attendees and discussed the important challenges of processing this vital ecosystem.