Iranian official claims drying of Urmia lake not dangerous for its species

Photo: Iranian official claims drying of Urmia lake not dangerous for its species / Iran

Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 7

By Umid Niayesh, Saeed Isayev - Trend:

The characteristic species of Lake Urmia, Artemia urmiana (brine shrimps) are not in danger, Iranian Environment Protection Organization's head of Eastern Azerbaijan Environmental Protection department, Hamid Qasemi said, Iran's Fars news agency reported on Feb. 7.

"While the Urmia lake is drying up, the species are not in danger, since they can be kept for up to 50 years," Qasemi said, without mentioning any details.

It should be noted that in 2013 Iran established a special gene bank for saving Urmia lake's Artemia.

It is while, On August 13, 2013, head of Iran`s Artemia research center, Ali Mohsen Pour said that due to drastic increase in lake salinity, there is no Artemia left at all in the lake.

Artemia, which is the sole living creature in lake Urmia, is a genus of aquatic crustaceans known as brine shrimp.

The ability of the Artemia to produce dormant eggs, known as cysts, has led to extensive use of Artemia in aquaculture. The cysts may be stored for long periods and hatched on demand to provide a convenient form of live feed for larval fish and crustaceans.

Lake Urmia in north-west Iran is experiencing its worst drought in many years, where over 70 percent of its water has dried up. The level has been declining since 1995.

Officials have said if the current restoration efforts are not effective, the lake will be turned into a swamp within three years. Previous reports said Lake Urmia needs 3.1 billion cubic meters of water per year to survive.

Lake Urmia is the third largest salt water lake on earth with a surface area of approximately 5200 square kilometers.

Commenting on the revival of the lake Urmia Qasemi said that the most important issue for reviving is managing water resources in the agriculture sector in lake's catchments.

Iran has allocated 220 billion rials (about $8.9 million) to the revival of the lake in the next Iranian calendar year which starts on March 21, the Mehr News Agency quoted the head of Iran's Environmental Protection Organisation, Masoumeh Ebtekar as saying on February 6.

She added that a final approach to save the lake will be declared by the end of the spring. The organization will then start its action plan.

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