STAFF REPORT KHI: Pakistan is fast losing the fish resources as several species of fishes and shrimps have started disappearing especially along the country’s coasts, reveal fresh surveys conducted to assess the resources the country used to possess several year back.
“Pakistan’s fish stocks are depleting at a rate of 15 per cent a year. Local fishermen, and not the deep-sea fishing trawlers, are responsible for devastating fishery resources as they used nets of small mesh size, taking out huge stocks of juvenile fish daily,” M. Faisal Iftikhar, Chairman Pakistan Fisheries Exporters Association (PAKFEA), adding said that fish stocks were depleting quickly.
The unauthorized fishing net sizes is the major factor behind the decline in fishes and shrimps resources thus dimming the chances of their further growth as well as their exports.
This situation is mainly attributed to unorganized nature of private sector, lack of focus in government policies and little institutional investment in this sector.
However, most recently, the Marine Fisheries Department has successfully carried out experiments of different mesh sizes for fish and shrimp catch, which would be implemented from coming August.
“After three successful experiments, we have approved 55mm mesh size trawl net for fish and 25 mm for shrimp catch by following the instructions of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,” a senior official of the MFD told the media.
Talking to media, Minister for Fisheries Sindh said that it was collective responsibility of all stakeholders to take effective measures for the conservation of marine resources. He informed that 200 destructive nets had been burnt at Karachi Fish Harbour out of 500 nets confiscated by the Sindh Fisheries Department so far.
Abdul Ghani Jokhio, Managing Director Karachi Fish Harbour Association (KFHA) informed that from 1st August 2012, KFHA would not allow landing of trash fish at Karachi Fish Harbour.
“The most disturbing element in the fast decline in the fish resources is the non-existence law or lack of relevant laws, if any, by the relevant authorities,” an official of the Marine Department commented.
The data shows that only 10 per cent or less farmed fish is being exported, existing processing units running on 25 per cent capacity annually, over 80 per cent of product landed on our harbors end up at fish meal plants, use of illegal nets on the rise as 100 per cent fishing boats carry these nets and use of illegal nets in creeks (natural hatcheries) going un checked.
The official of MFD cautiously linked the evaporating marine resources to severe unhygienic conditions at the harbour saying product quality is suffering and subsequently leads to reduction in export quantities and increase rejection rate at factories.
According to experts, destruction of mangroves is rapidly on the rise, unchecked drop of industrial and domestic waste in sea, lack of waste treatment policy, regular oil spillages at commercial ports and converting creeks into housing projects are the major factors that need to check on an urgent basis.
The experts say that until and unless the compliance of relevant laws regarding fishing net sizes is ensured, use of illegal nets is discouraged; the improvement in this sector would remain a distant goal.