close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
September 3, 2020

Fishermen’s bodies criticise federal govt’s decision to issue licences for deep-sea fishing trawlers

Karachi

September 3, 2020

Rejecting the federal government’s decision to provide licences to deep-sea fishing trawlers, fishermen groups organised a protest rally on Wednesday.

The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and the Pakistan Bonafide Fishermen Forum, two rights groups of fishermen, organised the rally from the Arts Council to the Karachi Press Club. Participants, including women, carried banners and placards, which had slogans against the deep-sea fishing trawlers.

PFF Chairman Muhammad Ali Shah, Pakistan Bonafide Fishermen Forum head Muhammad Hussain, and Fatima Majeed, a leader of the fishing community’s women, addressed the rally. Shah said the federal government had once again begun the process of giving licences 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 Karachi Port.”

Shah said there were around 4.6 million small, medium and large boats in the world, and of them, less than one per cent or 35,000 were deep-sea fishing trawlers. However, he said, they exploited 52 per cent of the marine resources, as their fishing nets were spread over several kilometres and they damaged the marine ecology. “They dredge and damage marine life. They catch only target fish while put around 90 per cent dead fish back and pollute the sea,” he said.

He demanded that since the deep-sea fishing policy had not been approved, an inquiry should be conducted to find out who had allowed the deep-sea trawlers to stay in Pakistani waters. Shah said the expansion of fishing into the deep sea was a grave threat to the livelihood of small fishers and marine ecology; hence, it was 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 that since the ecology of territorial waters and livelihoods in the provinces would be harmed deeply, it was indeed the constitutional privilege of the provinces to reject the policy as an illegitimate exercise of federal jurisdiction over the EEZ.

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

The PFF chief further said that the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s latest fish stock assessment conducted with the support of the federal government had already painted a very dismal picture of the country’s fish resources. According to the assessment report, more than 72 per cent of the fish stock in the coastal areas of Pakistan has declined.

The federal governments might have the authority to regulate deep-sea fishing, i.e. beyond 12 nautical miles from the baseline to the EEZ stretching over 200 nautical miles across the coastline, but fishing was a provincial subject and the provinces had thus now authority to regulate fisheries in the sea or in freshwater bodies.

Muhammad Hussain said they were quite puzzled at the renewal of the process after many years of rejection by previous governments. It was imperative that this process of licences be terminated immediately without discrimination between domestic and foreign applicants, he said.

“If deep-sea fishing policy is announced and trawlers are provided licences under it, it would be a violation of Pakistan’s commitment to the UN Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as it would deprive fishermen of right to food.” He said they would continue their peaceful protest until the licences of deep-sea fishing trawlers were cancelled. PFF leaders Saeed Baloch, Majeed Motani, Syed Ali Asghar Shah, Zahid Bhatti and other leaders of these organisations were also attended the rally.