PFF warns to stop issuing licenses to deep-sea trawlers

KARACHI: It is shocking news for the fishermen communities, residing along entire 350-km long Sindh coast that the Ministry of Port and Shipping, Pakistan is issuing licenses to deep-sea fishing trawlers.

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), representing the fishing community, claims the government initially is issuing licenses to 14 deep-sea fishing trawlers of China, out of them six have arrived at Korangi Fish Harbour, Karachi, ahead of getting licenses, as licenses are still in process.

PFF Chairperson Mohammad Ali Shah in his statement issued on Sunday warned the government to stop issuance of licenses to deep-sea trawlers, pleading that the fish is already declining in the sea and fishermen are facing threats to lose their traditional source of living.

PFF chief said he is confirmed that the Ministry of Port and Shipping is issuing licenses, but it is in process and trawlers have come at the harbour and getting ready to move in to the open sea and waiting for indication.

Shah said around three million fishermen on Sindh coast depend on fishing, mostly at marine sources, who may sit idle in case of wiping out the remaining stock of fish by these trawlers.

These seep-sea fishing trawlers use the huge fishing nets for bottom trawling and sweep entire fish species, coming in to these nets. This may cause destructions and push the community people to lose employment. Apart from this, he said these trawlers keep fish species of commercial value for processing, which might be 10 percent of their entire catch in single trip while 90 percent dead fish again they throw back in to the sea waters to create marine pollution.

Shah claims these deep-sea trawlers own by Chinese firms after catch take the catch to land at China harbours, where these firms do not have any duty on this fish, caught from Pakistani waters. In this situation, not only the local communities will suffer due to this loss, the Pakistan government itself lose its exchequer in case of landing this catch at China harbours.

PFF chief said a large number of people are associated with this fishing sector, including boat owners, crew, traders and community women, who may face trouble, because of this colossal loss due to operating deep-sea trawlers.

He said PFF has already designed a sustainable fisheries policy draft and gave suggestions to the government policy makers to look in to the same, as there is no consensus decision on building of huge fishing vessels and use of destructive nets. The PFF draft covers wide area related to this ignored sector and waiting to receive positive response from the provincial government. Because, he said, this practice is harmful, wiping out the fish stock, forcing the small scale fishermen to lose traditional jobs. After that, this new phenomenon of allowing deep-sea fishing trawlers may create further problems for communities.

PFF believes that the community people are traditional custodians of these natural resources, like sea and they should have right to own the same and in case of decision made by government they should be consulted to avoid any controversy.

Shah warned the federal government to stop issuance of licenses to deep-sea trawlers. In case of failure, he said hundreds of community people, including fisherwomen will launch movement against this decision for safeguarding their resources on their own.

He said the community people are already facing joblessness and looking enraged and in case of government’s different attitude the people may take any stand against trawlers standing at Korangi Harbour, because they do not like such harmful decisions, which cause destruction of their lives and livelihoods.

This could be mentioned here that PFF had already launched movements against these deep-sea trawlers earlier and succeeded, forcing the government to stop operating trawlers.

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