KARACHI, Oct 17: Controversy over deep-sea fishing has surfaced again as a complete ban has been demanded by small fishermen on huge foreign trawlers operating in the sea waters of the country.
Describing these trawlers as factory ships used to sweep away the entire sea resources of the country, they said the deep-sea trawlers had not only harmed the country by destroying its valuable sea resources, but also deprived the small fishermen from their livelihood.
They urged the federal government to impose a complete ban on the fishing of deep-sea trawlers and cancel their licenses in the national interests so as to save the coastal economy from getting collapsed.
Under the new deep-sea fishing policy, the marine area of the country has been divided into three zones. These are Zone-1 (between 0 and 12 nautical miles), Zone-2 (between 12 and 35 nautical miles) and Zone-3 (between 35 and 200 nautical miles).
The fishing rights in Zone-1 have been reserved for the traditional small scale fishermen of Sindh and Balochistan who can operate in this area, while Zone-2 has been reserved for the operation of medium sized vessels.
The small fishermen have always expressed reservations over the deep-sea policy, saying that the deep-sea trawlers with highly sophisticated nets have been harming the economy of the local fishermen by transgressing their zone.
Urging a total ban on the operation of deep-sea trawlers between 35 and 12 nautical miles from the shore, they called a thorough probe into the affairs of the deep-sea trawlers.
Though the government had imposed tougher penalties on the violators of fishing zones, but the small fishermen have always complained that deep-sea trawlers have been engaged in violating their zones.
The surfacing of dispute on deep-sea fishing has perturbed the fisheries officials who are presently occupied with other urgent issues such as boosting coastal economy and improving the living conditions of fishermen.
Initially, the military government had imposed a ban on deep-sea fishing earlier, but later it was lifted and zoning fishing system based on exclusively reserved areas for big trawlers and small boat owners was introduced.
But the small fishermen of Sindh and Balochistan had opposed the decision of allowing the operation of big trawlers in their respective water zones.