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July 5, 2015

Banned nets harm marine life


July 5, 2015

KARACHI: Marine resources in Pakistan are on the decline as fishermen are unabatedly using banned nets for catches in the country’s seawater, exporters said on Saturday.
They said the authorities should monitor illegal fishing activities at sea banks where Bulla Gujja (illegal net) is used and at ports where fish is loaded for supply in the market.
A fish exporter Azneem Bilwani agreed that illegal practice of catching small fish and shrimp through bulla gujja is taking place in Pakistan’s waters. He said the practice is illegal. Bilwani said registered fishmeal exporters are not using any juvenile fish or shrimp, captured by illegal means, to process fishmeal.
A large quantity of fish and shrimp -- that is caught by large launches, which stay in open sea waters for many days -- are sold at fishery harbours. Majority of these launches unload catches at West Wharf and Ibrahim Hyderi fishing village.
Chairman Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum Muhammad Ali Shah said the use of banned nets is illegal in the law, but there is no implementation. Sea lords and some poultry feed factories encourage the use of banned nets, Shah said.
Marine Fisheries Department, Sindh Fisheries Department, Fishermen Cooperative Society, Karachi Fish Harbour Authority and Sind Trawler Owners and Fisheries Association agreed to the increase in net size, considering the drop in the fish catch.
All the fishermen had to expand the mesh size by December 31 last year. But, a majority of them paid no heed to the order.
Bilwani said it was agreed that the mesh size would be increased to 25 millimetres for shrimp and 55mm for fish catch.
He said the launch owners have still not changed their net sizes as per the commitments, which need to be checked by the authorities. He added that the catches from old mesh should not be allowed to be unloaded.
Another fishmeal exporter Amyn Dossa said the exporters have filed a petition in the court of law to curb the

catching of any type of juvenile fish and shrimp.
Dossa added that the officials of Marine Fisheries Department and Sindh Fisheries Department pay visits to the exporter facilities to keep surveillance on the use of fish.
Teams from importing countries also visit fish processing plants, he added. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) test of every consignment is also conducted to find out the fish quality.
Around 125 companies process fish meal by using sun-drying method in Sindh and Balochistan. The fishmeal is used for making of chicken feed. Of the total numbers of processors, only seven are exporters.
Fishmeal exporters also demanded of the government to completely ban fishing in June, July and August, which are primarily the breeding period.

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