Fisheries dept berated for its failure to curb illegal fishing along coast

Updated April 17, 2019

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Minister says marine fisheries department failed to do its job of policing coastal areas. ─ Online/File
Minister says marine fisheries department failed to do its job of policing coastal areas. ─ Online/File

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly was told on Monday that the Pakistan marine fisheries department, the watchdog force in the sea which functions under the federal government, had failed to control illegal fishing along the coastline.

While furnishing a statement and answering questions from lawmakers during the Question Hour session in the provincial assembly, Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Abdul Bari Pitafi said that illegal fishing in the sea was being carried out owing to weakness of the department.

He said the marine fisheries department was the policing force in the coastal areas but it had failed to do its job. “I don’t know whether it makes a deal with illegal fishermen or it is just not capable enough to keep a vigilant eye on the act of illegal fishing,” Mr Pitafi said.

When asked by the Grand Democratic Alliance’s Nusrat Seher Abbasi that what steps had been taken by the fisheries department to control illegal fishing in the sea as well as in sweet water, the minister said that there were two sections of fishing — inland fishing and marine fishing, adding that the provincial government was responsible for policing the inland fishing only as the other section was controlled by the marine fisheries department.

“We have a proper system at each district comprising directorates who maintain check and balance,” he said and added that the licensed fishermen for inland fishing were also being monitored.

Referring to the action against illegal fishing, the minister said that all those fishermen and the contractors who bought fish from them were booked and charge-sheeted in the relevant courts.

‘No threat to Manchhar Lake’

Replying to a question asked by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s MPA Khurram Sher Zaman, Mr Pitafi said there was no environmental or water quality threat to aquatic animals in Manchhar Lake.

He also said that no fish in Manchhar Lake died due to poor environment.

Refuting the claim of an opposition member that a large number of fish was found dead, he said the poachers threw their undersize catch in bulk near the embankment of Manchhar Lake after the department took action against illegal fishing. “The department also keeps a vigilant eye upon catching of undersize fish,” he added.

The minister said that there was a shortage of water for fish farming and added that there were around 4,500 ponds in the province but they had dried up. He said that the tail-end areas had been hit more severely in the circumstances.

Answering a question asked by MPA Nusrat Abbasi, the minister said that upgrade of a veterinary centre at Kot Mirs Landhi, Kot Ghulam Mohammad taluka, Mirpurkhas district, at a cost of Rs5.093 million was to be completed by June 2018. However, the same has not been completed within stipulated time because of less release of funds during 2017-18.

“Therefore, the execution period of the scheme has been extended for one more year,” he added.

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2019