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Fishermen plight highlighted at dialogue

Fishermen plight highlighted at dialogue

HYDERABAD: Parti­ci­pants in a dialogue held on Monday highlighted the difficulties faced by fishermen in earning their livelihood because of non-implementation of certain laws and proposals needed to improve their lot.

The dialogue was organised at a local hotel under the aegis of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) to discuss implementation on recommendations of the Sindh fisheries policy.

Speaking on the occasion, PFF’s vice-chairman Mustafa Mirani said the government had done away with the contract system on paper, but it was not implemented in letter and spirit. The forum had conducted research on the existing law and presented a set of proposals, he said.

He said 1980’s Fisheries Ordinance, under which this sector was regulated, as well as the government’s proposed Aqua Culture Act 2015 needed improvement. Considering guidelines of an international organisation, the act should be accordingly amended given the fact that Pakistan was signatory to these guidelines, he said.

Mustafa Gurgez said that due to illegal occupation of freshwater bodies activities of fishermen had become extremely difficult. The PFF had always worked for fishermen.

He urged that untreated wastewater was not to be released in water bodies under the 1980 Ordinance, but its discharge continued, turning freshwater resources poisonous and toxic. He said fishermen had lost many precious species of fish due to this wastewater while environment was being destroyed as well.

Faqir Dad Khoso said the government was considering PFF’s proposals and admitted that influential people occupied freshwater bodies in Sindh. He said the Sindh government would introduce legislation after consultation on this issue.

Zulfiqar Halepoto said fishermen were facing starvation, which was a violation of their fundamental right. He said every human being had the right to food, but in Sindh powerful people usurped the rights of the poor. He urged the government to end this illegal occupation of water bodies.

Ishaque Mangrio said fishermen were actual heirs of land. When man did not have enough resources of food, he used to catch fish. But today fishermen had become alien to the very waters where they used to strive for earning their livelihood, he said. Their fish catch had now become the property of some contractors, he added.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2015

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