KARACHI: Fisheries resources have drastically been affected in past few decades mainly due to overfishing, unsustainable fishing practices and marine pollution. Trainings and capacity building programs for fishers can help address declining fish stocks and will provide income generation opportunities to local communities. This was stated by speakers during inauguration of longline fishing boat and distribution of iceboxes organized by WWF-Pakistan under the project titled ‘Sustainable Fisheries Entrepreneurship: A Citizen Based Approach to Saving Pakistan’s Unique Marine Environment’ at Ibrahim Hyderi.
The project initiated at three coastal union councils of Karachi including Ibrahim Hyderi, Rehri Goth and Maripur is supported by Engro Foundation. The project initiated in July 2016, has supported fishing communities in improving capacities and providing alternative livelihood opportunities to the local fishermen. The project has helped reduce post-harvest losses and by-catch of endangered and threatened species as well as promoted sustainable fishing practices.
During the event it was also discussed that one of the major challenges the communities are facing is of increasing level of pollution, both solid waste and wastewater in the marine waters. Solid waste including organic waste from cattle colony (cow dung), piles of plastic waste from the whole city through drains, untreated waste water and its nuisance smell from Korangi industrial area and Port Qasim have significantly polluted the creek waters. Due to this high level of pollution, it has been observed that the fish resources are being depleted day by day which is directly impacting the economic conditions of these fishing communities who are highly dependent upon fisheries.
Speaking on the occasion, Jahangir Piracha, CEO Engro Vopak shared that sustainability of fisheries resources is at the heart of Engro and they are focusing on providing better life style to the local communities involved in fishing. He also shared that Engro has been part of various environmental initiatives and in this regard has helped revive 5000 hectares of mangroves in Port Qasim and surrounding areas. He was of the view that mangroves are not only the good source of sustenance of people but provide nursery grounds for different fish species. He appreciated the efforts of fishermen who are engaged in rescue and release of endangered species. He also expressed commitment to continue support to these communities through various skill development and education programs across Sindh.
While, Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General WWF-Pakistan said that subject to host of problems, coastal communities of Pakistan are confronting reduction in livelihood opportunities. He further said that illegal fishing practices coupled with increase in marine pollution are not only threatening fish stocks but other endangered marine life which is also vanishing from oceans. He informed that capacity building program and awareness sessions with local fishers have resulted in rescue and safe release of a number of endangered and unique marine species that included dolphins, sunfishes, whale sharks and other important marine life. He emphasized on the need to educate the youth of coastal communities who can play pivotal role in conservation of marine resources. He termed pollution as the major cause of degradation of marine resources and called for innovative solutions to address this issue. PR