KARACHI, June 13: Sindh Minister for Fisheries Zahid Ali Bhurgari has said that the issue of deep-sea fishing would be taken up with the federal government.

He was talking to the office-bearers of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) on Friday during his visit to Ibrahim Haideri, a major locality of fishermen.

PFF chairman Mohammad Ali Shah and General Secretary Saeed Baloch briefed him about the issues like contract system and depleting marine resources owing to the deep-sea fishing by foreign trawlers. He was told that these major problems had rendered most of the local fishermen without a livelihood.

The minister said the government fully realised the problems being faced by fishermen in Sindh, adding that he would visit fishermen’s villages across the province to assess the prevailing situation.

Mr Bhurgari said that the provincial government would take concrete steps for the welfare of the fishermen community. He said that in order to ascertain the community’s plight, he was visiting fishermen villages because the PPP did not believe in drawing room politics. He held out the assurance that the government would do its utmost to protect the rights and livelihood of fishermen, besides taking measures to prevent further destruction of marine resources.

The minister said that all decisions concerning the stakeholders of the fisheries sector would be taken with the consent of fishermen community’s representatives and the decision would be implemented by the government and the stakeholders jointly.

He pointed out that the PPP had always supported the community’s struggled against the contract system in the inland fisheries and had also introduced a bill for its abolition several times in the provincial assembly. However, he added, it did not succeed in getting the bill adopted by the house because it was sitting on the opposition benches.

PFF chief informed the minister that some two million fishermen in Sindh, like those in other provinces, were living a miserable life because of neglect by successive governments over the past few decades. He pointed out that even a national policy on fisheries could not be chalked out although this sector was contributing Rs10-12 billion to the national exchequer annually.

FCS election

A senior director of the Fishermen Cooperative Society (FCS) has called for the holding of election for the 15-member board of directors of the FCS, saying that there was no justification of delaying the elections after the Feb 18 general elections in the country.

Talking to Dawn, Haji Mohammad Yunus pointed out that the society’s affairs were being handled by hand-picked administrators for quite some time. He said the administrators installed by government never took the directors elected by the fishermen community into confidence on major issues.

In the absence of an FCS chairman duly elected by the board of directors, the society was suffering administratively and financially.

He was of the view that the financial crisis being faced by the FCS could not be overcome unless all stakeholders were involved in the process of policy making.

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