Fishermen across the world, including Pakistan, India and even those as far away as France and Canada, face the same problems, experts have said.
On Wednesday, delegates from 13 countries, including India, Canada, Sri Lanka, France, South Africa and Thailand, attended the opening ceremony of the World Forum of Fisher People’s (WFFP) fifth general assembly. Throughout the first day of this four-day event, speakers stressed that a sustainable fishing policy must be prepared to give incentives to small-scale fishermen because deep-sea fishing trawlers were depleting marine life. The opening ceremony was inaugurated by Sindh Minister for Fisheries Zahid Bhurgari. The aim of the assembly is to allow each country to put forward their own case studies and to elect a new body for the WFFP.
WFFP general secretary Herman Kumara, who came from Sri Lanka, explained that fishermen leaders from across the world came together in Delhi in 1997 to protect depleting marine resources and control pollution levels. “The WFFP has already designed a global policy - with recommendations collected from all the countries - to be submitted to their governments.”
During his speech, Bhurgari pointed out that the Sindh government has taken an initiative to pass a bill to abolish the contract system. “It is the great achievement of the government and now fishermen are free to catch fish without any fear,” he said. The government has also banned the use of harmful nets and officials have been asked to strictly monitor fishermen, he added.
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum chairman Mohammad Ali Shah hoped that this event will open new ways and bring together world fisher leaders to safeguard the rights of fishermen in every corner of the world. Classical dancer Sheema Kirmani also gave a performance on the issues faced by fishing communities.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2011.
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