Fishing community expresses concerns over corporate intrusion

Speakers at rally condemn detentions of fishermen by Pakistan and India

Fishing community held a rally on November 21 to observe World Fisheries Day. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: Overfishing, environmental pollution, urbanisation and industrial activities have destroyed the source of income of the fishermen communities.

This was said by Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) Chairperson Muhammad Ali Shah while speaking on the occasion of the World Fisheries Day which is celebrated on November 21 worldwide. Depletion of fish has compelled the fishermen to leave their traditional means of livelihood, he said.

To observe the day, people from fishing community held a procession that marched from Regal Chowk to the Karachi Press Club. During the rally, hundreds of fishing community members, including men and women, demanded an end to illegal occupation of water reservoirs, overfishing in sea, river and lakes, and sea pollution, which have far reaching negative implications on the marine life, small scale fisheries and indigenous fishermen.

Families of fishermen detained in India to be compensated

The rally, which was organised by the PFF, was also attended by representatives of civil society. It also featured fishing tools, decorated small boats and nets, traditional costumes of the fishing community and folk dance.

While addressing the rally, Shah observed that efforts for establishing a blue economy were under way in Pakistan, which would result in the control of industrial fishing sectors over marine and river resources and add to the deprivation of the fishing community.

According to Shah, the corporate actors had begun to generate discourse around it and were trying to win over people, communities and institutions including government departments on their side, which would ultimately harm the fishing community.

Expressing his concerns over the efforts for industrialising the fishing sector, Shah said, "It will be a setback to the small scale fisheries that is already under crisis in Pakistan". There is no justification for the intrusion of corporate sector in fishing since the fishermen possess licence and the superior courts have also ordered that only fishermen have the right to catch fish, he added.

"Out of total 1,209 inland water bodies, more than 500 have been illegally occupied by local landlords who exploit poor fishing communities," the PFF chairperson said.

Fried fish in great demand in winter

The PFF chairperson also expressed concern over the frequent detentions of fishermen by Indian authorities. He lamented that more than 150 Pakistani fishermen were languishing in Indian jails since many years. Inhumane act of Indian government has been causing the families of the incarcerated Pakistani fishermen to starve, he said.

Shah urged the provincial government to clearly lay down the fisheries policy and demanded that the provincial assembly adopt resolutions against overfishing, habitat destruction and other issues that posed serious threats to the sustainability of marine and freshwater resources.

PFF Sujawal President Noor Muhammad Thaheemore called for the resolution of the issue of Sir Creek so that Pakistan and India stop detention of fishermen. He demanded an early and safe release of fishermen on both the sides of borders.

Thaheemore also criticised blue economy since it was resulting in fear among people associated with the small-scale fisheries. He demanded the government protect ecosystem for coming generations.

PFF Vice-Chairperson Mustafa Mirani, Gulab Shah, Muhammad Mallah, Umer Mallah, Ramzan Mallah and others also spoke on the occasion.

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