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‘There isn’t any extra meals within the sea’: Pakistani fishermen concern Chinese language trawlers dock at Karachi port

KARACHI: A foyer group representing Pakistani fishermen mentioned a authorities plan to permit Chinese language firms to have interaction in deep-sea fishing within the nation’s territorial waters may threaten the survival of at the least three million individuals who rely on the ocean for his or her livelihood.
Final month, 12 Chinese language deep-sea trawlers docked on the port of Karachi, sparking concern amongst native fishermen who say industrial fishing vessels and backside trawling would deplete fish shares in unique federal sea areas offshore. from the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan.
Backside trawling – dragging nets throughout the seabed to select up fish – stirs up sediment on the seabed, displaces or damages sure marine species, causes pollution to combine with plankton and strikes by the meals chain and creates Dangerous algal blooms or oxygen poor lifeless zones.
The shoreline of Sindh and Balochistan is 1,050 km lengthy, Mohammad Ali Shah, president of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Discussion board, advised Arab Information final week, saying about three million fishermen rely on the ocean for his or her survival.
A brand new fisheries coverage is anticipated however has not but been revealed by the federal government, he mentioned.
“The offshore trawler coverage has not but been authorised, however earlier than that, [China] introduced these trawlers, ”Shah mentioned, calling the arrival of Chinese language ships on the port of Karachi final month unlawful.

On this undated photograph, Fujian Fishery Firm fishing vessels transfer from Gwadar Port to Karachi, Pakistan (Photograph courtesy: Fishermen Cooperatives Society)

In 2018, the federal government promulgated a deep sea fishing licensing coverage which was opposed by fishermen’s consultant our bodies and provincial authorities companies, calling it a violation of the Structure and encroachment on the livelihoods of fishermen. coastal provinces.
Fears that overseas fishing firms could devour native communities will not be new.
For years, fishermen within the southwestern metropolis of Gwadar in Balochistan province – a flagship of the $ 60 billion China-Pakistan financial hall – have protested in opposition to overseas trawlers.
Tensions started to mount when the Fisheries Division revealed plans to subject licenses to varied overseas fishing vessels to function in an unique financial zone in 2016.
However final week Federal Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Haider Zaidi advised Arab Information that the nation’s new excessive seas fishing coverage wouldn’t permit Chinese language trawlers to have interaction in unregulated deep sea fishing. Backside trawling, he mentioned, can be banned underneath the brand new coverage.
“The import of boats shouldn’t be unlawful,” he mentioned. “The way in which you utilize them must be regulated.”
Pakistan divides its sea into three zones, the place Zone 3 (20-200 nautical miles) is managed by the federal authorities. As much as 12 nautical miles (zone 1) are the area of the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan and between 12 and 20 nautical miles, the ocean is asserted a buffer zone.

Fishermen take away fish from a web on Clifton Seashore within the Pakistani port metropolis of Karachi on October 6, 2020 (AFP / File)

Native fishermen will not be allowed to fish in Space 3 and overseas fishing vessels will not be allowed to fish within the different two areas underneath present coverage.
The Fishermen’s Cooperative Society (FCS), which issued the license to Chinese language trawlers, mentioned Chinese language fishing vessels wouldn’t use the harmful technique of backside trawling and would as a substitute assist “ modernize ” the fishing trade. Pakistani fisheries and exports.
Official figures put the annual worth of Pakistan’s fish exports at round $ 450 million.
“Bringing Chinese language trawlers for deep sea fishing is consistent with the federal government’s deep sea fishing coverage and goals to enhance and modernize fishing, along with offering employment alternatives for native fishermen,” mentioned Abdul Berr, president of the Fishermen’s Cooperative Society, to Arab Information.
“About 3,500 fishermen may have employment alternatives with the arrival of the final fishing boats and fashionable small boats to the world,” mentioned Berr.
He added: “First, 70 % of the trawler and processing facility employees will probably be native. There will probably be no fishing in provincial territorial waters. The trawlers will convey all their catch to Karachi the place it is going to be processed in factories after which exported. “
Small-scale native fishermen would obtain fashionable fiber boats on “straightforward installments,” Berr mentioned, a step in the direction of changing their out of date boats.
However Sindh Minister of Livestock and Fisheries Abdul Bari Pitafi mentioned mega fishing boats would wipe out marine life even when they solely operated in Federal Authorities Zone 3.
“We are going to … additionally oppose his [trawlers’] operations in Space 3 as a result of they may solely wipe out marine life, together with fish seeds, ”Pitafi advised Arab Information.
In 2016, a survey by the Meals and Agriculture Group of the United Nations discovered that greater than 72 % of fish shares in Pakistan’s coastal areas had already declined.
“A trawler makes a catch which is equal to 1 catch per 100 of our fishing boats,” mentioned Younus Khaskheli, a fisherman. “And their fishing web is probably the most harmful, as a result of it hunts 1000’s of tons of fish.”
Tens of 1000’s of fishing boats are registered in Pakistan, he mentioned, with fishermen from Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and even Bangladesh fishing in these waters.
“Our maritime inventory will come to an finish; the nation will lose billions in revenue and our fishermen will change into unemployed, ”Khaskheli mentioned. “There will probably be no meals left within the sea.”

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