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KARACHI: Sindh on Tuesday declined to support the proposed deep-sea fishing policy of the federal government by pointing out that after the 18th Amendment of the Constitution the fisheries sector exclusively pertains to the provincial government, which is competent enough to regulate fishing operation.

This was stated by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah while talking to Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Bosan who called on Mr Shah here at CM House to discuss the proposed New Deep Sea Fishing policy of the federal government.

Recalling the commitment made earlier by the federal government, the chief minister said that despite collecting 0.25 per cent as export development fund, it was not making any investment in fisheries in Sindh nor had it honoured its promise of 2011 to carry out dredging of the channel at Karachi Fish harbour.

“The federal government is required to take various measures for the promotion of small-scale fishing such as the establishment of a revolving fund, development of coastal aquaculture, training and improvement in the market system but nothing has been done,” he said.

The chief minister further said that according to an FAO report Pakistan’s fishing resources were significantly over-exploited. The fish stocks were economically below optimal level and had depleted to a dangerous extent, then why the federal government was insisting on issuing new licences.

“Obtaining fishing licences from the federal government would increase the burden on local fishermen as their vessels are already getting registration from the Mercantile Marine Department (MMD), federal government, permit from the KPT, fishing licences from the Sindh government, port clearance from Pakistan Customs,” he said. “Issuance of licences by two governments would create hardship for fishermen and infringe the fundamental rights of the poor community,” he added.

“The proposed deep-sea fishing policy is against the poor fishermen of Sindh. I have envisaged a plan to change the lifestyle of our fishermen by improving depleted fish resources and giving them good education,” he said and added that he was unable to support the policy.

The chief minister also urged the federal minister to talk to the prime minister and hand over the Korangi Fish Harbour to Sindh.

Minister for Fisheries and Livestock Mohammad Ali Malkani said the federal government under the 18th amendment had abolished the ministry of agriculture and fisheries and now through the food security ministry was trying to revive the fisheries ministry. “This is the right of the provincial government, therefore, duplication of similar work of issuing licences is not legal,” he said.

The advocate general of Sindh, Zameer Ghumro, said the federal government had empowered the chief minister of Balochistan to appoint chairman of the Gwadar port then similar treatment was not given to the Sindh chief minister, who had no role in the appointment of KPT chairman.

During the meeting, Mr Bosan said that although constitutionally the provincial government was competent to issue sea fishing licences up to 12 nautical miles (NM), and onward only the federal government had authority, the federal government was ready to accept Sindh authority up to 20 NM if it allowed the Center to regulate licences. “We are ready to develop sea resources and invest in the sector which hardly earns $30 million against a potential of $3 billion export,” the federal minister said, adding that the federal government had prepared a draft Deep Sea Fishing Policy for issuance of 50 licences for tuna long liners, squid jigger, mesopelagic fishing to foreign vessels and 6,000 licences to local fishing vessels.

During the meeting Mr Bosan was assisted by Ports and Shipping DG Asad Rafiq Chandna, Sea Food Export Association chairman Muslim Mahmoodi while the provincial minister for fisheries and livestock Mohammmad Ali Malkani, fisheries and livestock secretary Dr Nawaz Shaikh, DG-fisheries Dr Ghulam Mohammad and advocate general of Sindh Zamir Ghumro assisted the chief minister.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2016