Govt, private stakeholders endorse fisheries policy draft

KARACHI: The government, environmentalists and experts on Thursday endorsed the policy draft designed by Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) and suggested to add some missing points to adopt it.

They were speaking at the concluding session of the two-day provincial workshop on sustainable fisheries policy, organized by PFF at a local hotel.

Sindh Fisheries Minister Jam Khan Shoro, PML-N MPA Haji Shafi Mohammed Jamot, Zulfiqar Shah, Joint Director Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), FCS Chairman Dr Nisar Morai, Muhammad Moizam of WWF Pakistan, PFF Chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah, Qazi Athar advocate, Mustafa Gurgaiz, senior journalist Mahesh Kumar, Iqbal Detho and others also spoke on the occasion.

Fisheries Minister Jam Khan Shoro assured the stakeholders that the government would discuss further on the policy draft to add some relevant points to make it comprehensive. He said there was need to form a committee to review it, saying that this discussion would benefit the department. He said he would take up the matter.

He realized the fact that the laws have been designed earlier but there is lack of coordination to ensure implementation of these legal documents. For example, he said there is ban by the government on use of harmful nets but these nets are still being used, exploiting the fish stocks.

He said there should be a force comprising the officials of the government departments, community and environmentalists to ensure implementation of the law and stop exploitation of fish resources.

He said he has had meetings with the federal and Punjab government to resolve the issues of export of fish and initiate development schemes for the wellbeing of the community, which contributes a lot to the national exchequer through seafood.

“Not a single development scheme has been launched, so far, for the fishermen by the federal government despite the fact that seafood export contributes more foreign exchange annually.

“We should also make act to stop the sale of fish being caught through the harmful nets. Sindh government is authorized to take any decision over the relevant issues in the interest of the province,” he said.

Asif Himayon Vice Admiral Pakistan Navy recalling the past said he was involved in the dialogue with Indian authorities to resolve the issue of detained fishermen in 1994. During the time I also met with detained fishermen in Indian jails and observed how they were living in the horrible situation. This dialogue should be continued again to resolve the issue permanently.

He said feudal lords, traders of seafood and criminals are dominating the fisheries sector, both marine and inland fishers. The fisheries is tax- free industry, which can earn a lot but due to certain elements neither government nor the community people get benefit.

He said the Sindh and Balochistan fisheries departments should have coordination to resolve the internal affairs within community over fish catch and utilising resources. He said there are reports of frequent conflicts within community over fishing and this must be resolved.

PFF Chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah said the government should respond to the initiative taken by the organization on war footing to address these issues and save natural resources. He also quoted FAO old report in which the author suggested to industrialize the fishing sector and exploit the fish. But now the same FAO has pointed out that fisheries are declining in the world waters due to over fishing. They suggested adopting small scale fisheries and discouraging the larger scale fisheries.

PFF, being the major organization of World Forum of Fisher people (WFFP) has been involved in the policy designing following the voluntary guidelines of FAO. PFF had invited all the stakeholders, specially the relevant departments but many of them could not respond to this important initiative, Shah said.

Zulfiqar Shah of PILER appreciated the Sustainable Fisheries Policy Draft and urged upon the government to accept it and ensure its implementation. He said this kind of work is laudable as the community people have been brought to give their input in the draft designing.

Qazi Athar Advocate said there was need of political will and the ministers should have clear vision as far as environmental conservation and community livelihoods are concerned.

He said there was no mention in the draft about the unnecessary interference of police and other law enforcing agencies, which disturb the fishermen activities, specifically while they move their fishing vessels to the open sea, saying these points should be incorporated in the document.

Moizam Khan said FAO study shows that Pakistan increased fishing vessels to more than 13000 and we could not control on the size and capacity to make it sustainable.

He predicts that Pakistan would lose fish stocks quite earlier than the world nations because of increasing over fishing and registering more boats. He said the government should take the situation in to consideration and we have to design policy broader so we may save resources for the future generations. He said we have already designed the policies and laws which are kept useless. This one should be adopted with additions, he added.

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