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Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum plans weeklong events in connection with World Fisheries Day

The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) will celebrate World Fisheries Day on November 21 with the theme ‘Fisher people’s sovereignty on all marine islands’. Various activities have also been planned from November 16 to 21 throughout the province in connection with the day.

PFF Chairman Muhammad Ali Shah said in a statement that World Fisheries Day was celebrated every year on November 21 throughout the world by the fishing communities. From its inception in 1998, the PFF has been celebrating and observing this event every year and this year it would be celebrated on the theme of the rights of fishing community and their sovereignty on marine islands, he added.

Shah said around 3 million fishermen in Sindh and Balochistan depended on marine fishing, mostly in creeks; however, the government had decided to develop islands and construct cities on islands that would deprive the fishermen of their livelihood.

He said the federal government had constituted the Pakistan Islands Development Authority (PIDA) to construct the city on twin islands of Bhundar (Bundal) and Dingi without any consultation with the Sindh government but the area fell under the provincial jurisdiction.

“The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum is protesting against such decision and is celebrating World Fisheries Day by protesting the construction of cities over islands, as they are places for fishing and mangrove forests,” he said.

“Such action of the federal government is not only against the constitution of Pakistan but it is also against international conventions and agreements, which provide for social, economic and cultural sovereignty to the indigenous people.”

He said Pakistan has a coastal belt of over 1,050 kilometres and there are 300 small and big islands located in Sindh coast that would be taken into control by the federal government. Along with Dingi and Bundal, these islands are home to thousands of hectares of mangrove forests, which are nurseries of fish and shrimps while these creeks from Karachi to Thatta serve as fishing grounds for the fishermen.

Shah said a recent United Nations study reported that more than two-thirds of the world’s fisheries had been overfished or were fully harvested and more than one third were in a state of decline because of factors such as the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution, and global warming. The fishermen have been suffering series of problems such as ghastly increasing marine pollution, unconventional and untraditional fishing practices including destructive nets and deep-sea trawlers that have ruined the ecosystem, he lamented.

Shah said World Fisheries Day is observed to highlight the critical importance of fisheries to human lives.

He said fish stocks were being depleted through ‘deep sea factory ship’ vessels, bottom trawling, and other means of unsustainable fishing methods. “Unless we address these issues collectively, the crisis will deepen.” He said World Fisheries Day helps highlight these problems, and calls for finding solutions to the increasingly inter-connected problems fishing communities are facing.

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