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August 23, 2020

PFF to initiate drive against deep-sea fishing trawlers

Karachi

August 23, 2020

The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum has vowed to initiate a campaign against deep-sea fishing trawlers spotted near the Karachi Port Trust.

Held at Ibrahim Hyderi on Friday, an organisational meeting was headed by Chairman Muhammad Ali Shah in which it was discussed that the federal government had once again begun to process licenses for deep-sea vessels under a policy to fish in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around 20 miles off the coast in Sindh and Balochistan.

Around a dozen trawlers are parked around the KPT, the meeting was informed. Since a policy on deep-sea fishing had not been approved, an inquiry should be conducted to find out who had allowed the deep-sea trawlers to stay in Pakistani waters, the meeting demanded.

They questioned when fish stocks were so much depleted, around 72 per cent, then why there was a deep-sea fishing policy in the making.

Shah said the expansion of fishing into the deep sea was a grave threat to the livelihood of small fishers and marine ecology. “Therefore, it is a violation of national laws and international commitments. If the provincial assemblies have not approved the policy then it is also a violation of the constitution.”

He said since the ecology of territorial waters and livelihoods in provinces would be harmed deeply, it was indeed the constitutional privilege of provinces to reject the policy as an illegitimate exercise of the federal jurisdiction over the EEZ.

“Our grave objection to this action is two-fold,” he said. “It threatens the livelihoods of small fishers by depriving them of catch today, and in future by ecologically destructive practices of these vessels”

Shah said the food and agricultural organisation’s latest fish stock assessment conducted with the support of the federal government had painted a very dismal picture of the country’s marine fish stock. “According to the assessment report, more than 72 per cent of the fish stock in coastal areas of Pakistan has declined.”

The meeting discussed that the federal governments might have the authority to regulate deep-sea fishing which was beyond 12 nautical miles from the baseline to the exclusive economic zone stretching over 200 nautical miles across the coastline; however, fishing is a provincial subject and the provinces have authority to regulate fisheries in the sea or freshwater bodies.

PFF Vice Chairman Mustafa Mirani, General Secretary Saeed Baloch and other office-bearers attended the meeting.