Coastal communities endorse policy guidelines on fisheries to save marine ecology

THATTA: Elected representatives, political and civil society activists and lawyers hailing from coastal areas of Thatta, Sujawal and Badin districts warned that not only humans, entire wildlife and marine life, which depend on fresh water for survival are being threatened, as tail end areas could not receive River Indus water.

Indus Deltaic communities are being deprived of water share from the river, which has impacted greatly on the entire ecology.

They were speaking at an Interactive Dialogue on Implementation of Recommendations on Fisheries Policy at Makli, Thatta on Wednesday. The event was organised by Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF). They feared these three coastal districts are declared prone to disaster and they might be engulfed by the sea intrusion if government failed to stop this loss through implementing fisheries policy recommendations.

PFF chairperson Mohammad Ali Shah said they have designed recommendations through frequent meetings with local communities and other stakeholders, which they sent to the provincial Sindh government but yet to be implemented. This gap, he said, may lead destruction and displacement.

He said, in fact, there is no authentic data about the fertile agriculture land, flourishing villages, human settlements, green pastures grabbed by the sea, but the frequent migration from the various coastal areas shows, they are insecure there.

Looking to these disturbances and cries raised by the vulnerable coastal communities should be paid heed and put policy recommendations on priority to avoid this huge loss.

Shah said they want to have sustainable fisheries policy to protect the life of four million fishermen and farmers, who have been living in the areas. He said there is no fish; there is no fertile land to grow grains and vegetables; there is no green pastures for sustainability of livestock. Hence, there is no option for the local communities to live there and die, because of acute shortage of food and fresh water.

PML-N MPA Amir Haider Sheerazi from Thatta said he has witnessed the situations, which PFF usually portrays and it is right of the coastal communities to have fresh water for their crops and domestic needs. They should have water share for irrigations. The Delta needs fresh water to maintain ecology and stop sea erosion.

The PML- N legislator pledged to take up the matter to ruling party leadership to take steps, which are mentioned in the recommendations on fisheries policy.

Community leader from Jati, Sujawal Noor Mohammad Thahemor, Advocate Gul Mohammad Khushk, Yesmeen Shah, WWF Pakistan official Ghulam Rasool Khatri, local political leader Qadir Lashari and others also spoke on the occasion.

The community activists endorsed the recommendations designed by PFF and forced the government to ensure its implementation to avoid destruction of life and livelihoods of local communities.