Balochistan is the biggest province of Pakistan in terms of population and resources; in addition, it has a radical geographic strategic location and Balochistan xoastal line is approximately 750 km but it pains me to write that illegal trawling is on the peak and destitute fishermen are leading a pitiful life.
Moreover, fishing is the primary source of livelihood for the population living in Balochistan coastal areas i.e. Gwadar, Pasni, Jivini, Ganz, and Ormara etc. Fishing is considered one of the world’s most risky occupations. According to International Labor Organization Occupational Safety and Health, an estimated 24,000 deaths occurred in fisheries worldwide last year; however, illegal trawling is a key driver of global overfishing and it threatens marine eco-system, puts foods security and regional stability at risk in addition it is linked to major human rights violation and even organized crime.
More importantly, Pakistan is home of 1050 km long coast of which 750 km runs through the largest province Balochistan. Illegal trawling in Balochistan started in 1960s and in 1971, government of Balochistan promulgated ordinance of fisheries for the prevention of illegal trawling in the provincial waters to save marine eco-system. Back then trawlers were not equipped as they are now to fish intensively and extensively. The problem with trawlers is that they also damage the ocean eco-system. A trawler’s net discriminately catches every life and object it encounters these objects sometimes includes endangered fish and even vulnerable deep-sea corals. This collateral damage is called the catch. Trawlers also devastate large areas of sea floor habitats that give marine species food and shelters, leaving the marine eco-system permanently damaged. Trawling also pollutes the sea with oil and other chemicals. Majority of people living at the coastal areas of the country rely on fishing for their livelihood.
Additionally, a large number of illegal trawlers in Balochistan’s coastal waters have been gradually increasing but the fish catches are steadily diminishing. Furthermore, fish species and quantities have declined owing to illegal trawling people, and as a result, fisherman of coastal areas of Balochistan are living hand to mouth facing a sense of frustration and deprivation. Fishermen’s problems have not been resolved for years and since most of the local citizen’s economy in Balochistan is based on fish production, people have been facing troubles for getting even basic necessities, such as food for everyday and other basic needs.
Furthermore, the Balochistan Sea Fisheries Ordinance 1971 permits only those crafts for fishing which are licensed by Licensing Authority under this Ordinance but the said Ordinance restricts the illegal trawlers to operate poaching vessels or fishing craft within 12 nautical miles by utilizing wire net or gujja because this act does not only devastate marine life but also affect fishermen adversely. Balochistan Government and Fisheries Department flunked to take dire measures against illegal trawlers in Balochistan coast which stop the progress of fisheries industry in Balochistan and it ruins marine life and hikes up economic crisis for local destitute fishermen. The Balochistan Government time to time brought amendments in the Ordinance so as to nip illegal trawling in the bud.
Recently, National Party protested in Gawadar, Pasni and Ormara against Chinese illegal trawling and Fisherman and Press reports criticize and blame this on poverty-driven overfishing by the illegal trawlers with banned nets. The local fishermen claimed that so far the trawlers have not absolutely been forbidden. They satirized the government and higher officials in power for not taking concrete and dire steps against the trawlers.
However, Senator Tahir Bezanjo raised point of public interest during sitting of senate held on 14th June,2021 whereby he stated that the illegal trawlers of China are trawling in the Balochistan Coast whereas it is a big threat to the necessitous fishermen who earn a livelihood via fishing, the Chairman Senate referred it to the Committee for consideration and report.
I request the concerned authorities to take some pragmatic steps to abolish illegal trawling so that there should not be genocide of fishes.