Fisherfolk rejoice on the World Fisheries Day:
Hundreds of fishermen enthusiastically participated in a rally taken out from Regal Chowk to Karachi Press Club to celebrate the World Fisheries Day on Sunday, demanding an end to the contract system in the fishing sector and waiving the debts for the sake of rehabilitation of the flood-affected communities.
Fisherwomen with the community male artistes, wearing traditional dresses, performed dance with small boats and exhibiting fishing tools to attract the spectators. Carrying banners, placards, fishing tools, the participants were shouting slogans, condemning contract system in fishing.
The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) organised the event throughout Sindh and parts of Balochistan coastal towns to highlight their social, economic, and livelihood issues. The PFF Chairperson, Mohammed Ali Shah, General Secretary Saeed Baloch, Tahira Ali, Karamat Ali, Executive Director, Piler, Zulfiqar Shah, Makal Shah, Majeed Motani, Ayoub Shan, Kausar Sadiq, Khuda Ganj Shad and others led the colourful rally. Earlier, fishermen and women from Bin Qasim coastal localities gathered at the Charan jetty in Ibrahim Hydri where from they moved to the city.
Fishermen, both marine and inland waters, held a variety of colourful activities in their respective areas, Karachi, Thatta, Hyderabad, Kandhkot and Manchhar Lake, where they performed traditional songs and dances which were appreciated by the audience. In Karachi the fishermen hailing from coastal villages of Bin Qasim and Keamari Town participated to express solidarity with the world fishers. A group of artistes and theatre actors were in the forefront, presenting songs and exhibiting fishing tools. This year theme was linked to the Pakistan Debt Cancellation Campaign, by PFF demanding of international financial institutions to waive the debt, announce its use for the rehabilitation of the communities displaced by the devastating flood. The second major point PFF rallies addressed was abolition of the contract system in fishing and protecting the rights of fishermen, living around inland waterways of the province.
Speaking on the occasion, PFF Chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah said that the fisheries sector was making a major contribution to the nations’ economies, employing hundreds of people and feeding thousands more. He said that over-fishing had wiped out fish stocks in the sea and due to indifferent policies of the government inland water bodies were also fast disappearing. Depleting natural resources due to climate change and certain policies had exposed hundreds of fishermen to hunger and starvation. Marine biological diversity was also slowly being destroyed as a result of overexploitation of species, physical alteration of ecosystems, pollution and global atmospheric change. Many small islands, rural and indigenous communities are already facing the first impacts of climate change. Their high vulnerability relates to their reliance upon resource-based livelihoods and the locations and configurations of their lands and territories.
Saeed Baloch, talking about the importance of the World Fisheries Day said it was a wake-up call for the community, imploring us to ensure that the fish would be there tomorrow, so the fishermen could continue to sustain a way of life and provide a nutritional source of protein to us all. He said the destruction of fish stocks through building and operation of dams and water diversions, had hastened the destruction of habitat and polluting or poisoning of rivers, and lakes. Many aquaculture operations, he said, had been subsidised and promoted at the expense of fishermen and the environment. He said if fishermen from different nations began jointly addressing environmental threats to fish stocks then they must achieve targets to feel secure that our resources will sustain for our future generations.
Majeed Motani, 65, sharing his 30-year experience of fishing said gone were the days when fishermen enjoyed prosperous life, earning enough incomes. Now with fish stocks declining with the passage of each day, fishermen were being forced into unemployment. He linked it to the increasing marine pollution and use of destructive nets.
Tahira Ali said hundreds of women earlier engaged in fishing, extending a helping hand to their family males now are sitting idle at home due to increasing commercialisation. Talking about the PFF intervention regarding providing alternative source of income to the community women, she aid that embroidery centres and other skill works were being introduced in the coastal localities.
Maqsood Solangi said the fisherwomen were now coming forward shoulder-to-shoulder with their menfolk in the struggle for protecting their rights. She said that fishermen, both marine and inland, were coming together for addressing the common issues facing them.
Fishermen community faces same problems across the world: PFFF:
KARACHI: The Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum (PFFF) staged rallies and other colorful activities across the province on Sunday to commemorate the World Fisheries Day 2010.
In this regard the central rally was taken out from the Regal Chowk to the Karachi Press Club.
On this occasion Chairman PFFF Muhammad Ali Shah, while talking to the media, said that the theme of the year is ‘Total and Unconditional Debt Cancellation.’
He said that the only way of rehabilitation of flood victims in Pakistan is that the global community should cancel all the debts of Pakistan and the government should spend that money on rehabilitation of flood-affected people. It is our demand to global community and Pakistani government, he added.
Ali Shah further said, “The World Fisheries Day has been observing for the last 12 years but fishermen are still deprived of their basic rights and economical security in Pakistan.”
He demanded of the government to compile an appropriate ‘Sindh Fisheries Policy’ to protect rights of the fishermen community.
He said that the PFFF demanding the government to review the policy of deep fishing, ending of contract system in fishing and legislation in regard with the fishing in river waters.
Replying to a question, he said, “Both the governments of Pakistan and India are mishandling the issue of detained fishermen in the jails of their countries. Innocent arrested fishermen are treated as war criminals.”
He said that the government was enjoying delayed tactics in the process of nationality verification of citizens.
In his message to the global fishermen community he said, “The problems of fishermen community are same across the world.
They are victims to globalisation. So unity of fishermen of entire world is the need of the hour.”
(Published on Daily TheNews, dailytimes, Nation on dated 22-11-2010)