KARACHI:Seventy per cent of the fish in Pakistan are destroyed in the post-harvest period. Pakistan produces 40,000 tons of tuna fish every year, but its treatment renders it unsuitable for consumption. A major part of it is also smuggled to Iran.
This was disclosed by World Wide Fund for Nature – Pakistan (WWF-P) marine fisheries technical advisor Muhammad Moazzam Khan at the Karachi Press Club on Saturday evening. He was speaking at a seminar on World Fisheries Day, 2015, titled ‘Let’s Protect Livelihood of Fisherman’.
Talking about the variety of fish smuggled into Iran such as tuna, Moazzam said the price of fish can be brought down by 70 per cent if this smuggling is curtailed. “100 per cent of tuna goes to Iran while 4 million of it is smuggled there and becomes part of Iran’s statistics,” he said.
Questioning why no fishermen and boats are caught on the Iranian side when they are severely penalised for wavering in Indian waters, he added that up to a thousand ships are registered on both the Indian and Iranian sides. “The impact of this is severely devastating,” he said. “The government needs to sort this out.”
Stressing the plight of marine life in Pakistan’s waters, Moazzam said that turtles and dolphins die when caught in the nets. “Ten thousand dolphins and up to 30,000 turtles die every year,” he said. “Turtle deaths have been decreased by 99 per cent once trainings were given to fishermen.”
He added that Pakistan is violating the rules set by the United Nations on the length of fishing nets. “The law says that nets shouldn’t be longer than 2.5km while up to 99 per cent of the fishermen use nets longer than this,” said Khan.
Fisherfolk Forum chairperson Muhammad Ali Shah stressed the need to convert trash fish into seafood as wastage constitutes most part of fishing on Pakistan’s coast.
“Government should subsidise fish so that it can be consumed locally,” he said. “The working class can’t afford it. People in Thar have nothing to eat. Have your people fed first and then export the excess elsewhere.”
He further talked about the need for ecological fisheries to bridge the gap between law and rights to protect livelihood of fishermen.