KARACHI: Pakistan’s Maritime Security Agency (MSA) on Thursday arrested 55 Indian fishermen with eight boats, said Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) spokesman .
The recent wave of hunting of fishermen from the open sea by Pakistan and Indian coastal border forces has created uncertainty among fishermen of both sides.
The information gathered by PFF revealed that more than 112 Indian fishermen with around 18 boats were captured by Pakistan’s Maritime Security Agency (MSA) during a week-long period, while Indian coastguards have caught two Pakistani boats with crews two days back. On Thursday MSA has arrested 55 Indian fishermen with eight boats, PFF spokesman said.
The community people in Pakistan’s Sindh coastal areas are looking for missing boats and their crews to identify their belongings, as they are arrested at the time of Eidul Azha celebrations.
Saeed Baloch, PFF’s general secretary giving his reaction said: “now when the two leaders of neighbouring countries Pakistan and India are attending United Nations General Assembly with expectations to sit together and resume talks and resolve the bilateral issues, the coastal security forces of both the sides are showing tit-for-tat and arresting poor workforce.”
He claims that more than 260 Pakistani fishermen are languishing in Indian jails. Similarly, more than 450 Indian fishermen with dozens of boats are caught by Pakistani forces. The parents of these workers back home are facing hardships in the absence of their loved ones.
Baloch said: “It is cruel act but when the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif released seven Indian boats recently in goodwill gesture, it spread a message to the Pakistani fishermen to receive their fishing vessels from India. But this suddenly move of catching fishermen is disturbing.”
“PFF is already demanding to resolve the issue and release fishermen with their boats and fishing tools so they may live a safe life. Again we demand to release the fishermen of Pakistan so they may join their families on the auspicious occasion of Eidul Azha.”
The reports received PFF from Indian community activists said a large number of fishermen staged a protest demonstration at Pore Bunder on Thursday against the Pakistan and Indian authorities, demanding to stop hunting of fishermen of both the countries. They urged upon Indian authorities to stop arresting Pakistani fishermen so they may avoid arresting Indian fishermen.
Mohammed Ali Shah, chairperson PFF and World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP) said at one hand the “governments are issuing licenses to huge trawlers to exploit the marine resources, pushing the poor workforce to stay vulnerable with little catch, while the other the coastal border security forces are targeting the poor fishermen, putting them into jails”.
Quoting UN assessment, Shah said: “Vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as corals, and important fisheries are being damaged by over-exploitation, destructive fishing practices, and marine pollution, especially from land-based sources. Increased sea temperatures, sea-level rise and ocean acidification caused by climate change pose a further threat to marine life, coastal and island communities and national economies.”
In this situation, he said the “governments should take the protection of ocean ecology and natural resources at priority. The resolution of sea territories between the neighboring countries should also be resolved amicably to avoid uncertainty among the poor workforce.”
He appealed world human rights forum and UN general assembly to take up the issue of conflict on sea territories and arresting fishermen by different coastal nations. He said they will organize a campaign worldwide on the platform of World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP) to address the issue, as hundreds of thousands fishermen face the hardships, while go to their open seas and being arrested by certain authorities.