Caspian fauna rings alarm bell

By Nigar Orujova, AzerNEWS Staff Writer

Azerbaijan with its capital city Baku is situated on one of the most picturesque parts of the Caspian seashore.

Water is a spring of life and to live on the cost of such a magnificent water body is indeed luck.

The sea greatly affects the city`s architecture. The view from Baku Bay, especially at night, is admirable with dancing illuminations on the water surface.

The Caspian Sea is originally a salt-water lake but its sea floor is made of oceanic type of lithosphere. It is the biggest endorheic lake on Earth. The salinity of the water ranges from 0.05 per mille to 11-13 per mille depending on the region. The total surface of the sea is 371,000 square kilometers, being 27.16 meters below the sea level with the deepest point at 1,025 meters.

This basin is surrounded by five states, which is the reason of various names given to the lake by different nations and tribes. Nowadays, it is officially called after the Caspi tribe. But the sea has its regional names like Khazar in Azerbaijan.

Clean mild sand and crystal clear water attract local people and tourists to the Caspian shore. People enjoy the magnificent view the sea gives them.

``I enjoy the warm sand and angry waves,`` says an old Bakuvian, who has been `in love` with the Caspian for over half a century. ``Each day my contact with the sea gives me immense satisfaction, fills me with enthusiasm and stimulates for the best. I cannot imagine myself without this crazy pearl of nature.``

The Caspian has been a lavish source of income for all those residing near it. Abundant natural resources, including seafood, oil and gas, and rich fauna and flora, make the Caspian unique in the ``sea family``.

There are about 141 fish species registered in the Caspian Sea, and the main fishery in the region, the sturgeon fishery, is operated only with the Caspian Sea resources. 90 percent of the popular black and red caviar sold all over the world comes from the Caspian Sea.

As other Caspian littoral countries, every year Azerbaijan releases about 15 million sturgeon fry into the sea to replenish the balance of sturgeon fish in the basin.

``Azerbaijan is pursuing a task-oriented goal in protecting the sea from poaching and commercial fish exploitation,`` Azerbaijani Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Huseyngulu Bagirov says.

According to the Iranian international scientific research institute, the sturgeon fish stock shrank by 25-30 percent and if the situation does not change the population of sturgeon will perish in 2021.

Seventeen of the 27 species are critically endangered. Bagirov said that Azerbaijan insists on a 10-year moratorium on sturgeon fishing in the Caspian. In 2012 Azerbaijan reduced its quota on sturgeon fishing.

Azerbaijan is more well-known for its oil reserves. It was Azerbaijan`s sector of the Caspian Sea where the first offshore well was drilled. The Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian supplies the country with natural resources. But it also causes dire problems for nature.

For all we gained and still take from this tremendous water reservoir we not only have to be grateful, but must also do our best to keep this feeding hand safe and sound. The Caspian is experiencing a number of environmental problems, which should be tackled.

The Caspian Sea, flush with natural resources, is suffering from pollution, which greatly damages the sea`s old inhabitants. I can still remember a terrifying scene from my childhood when hundreds and hundreds of dead seals lay along the seashore after each oil accident at sea. In the early 1920s the population of seals in the Caspian Sea was one million species, whereas the current statistics suggests their numbers are falling. The decreasing population is worrisome for environmentalists of the Caspian countries.

All the countries around the Caspian Sea have to understand the damage they cause and try to address pollution problems.

We have no right to take the resources of nature and repay it in such a bad way. Poaching and irrational extermination of sea dwellers is cruel and inhuman. One ought to remember that nature is our home.