ISLAMABAD: Rizwan Ahmed, federal secretary Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Thursday, informed a parliamentary panel that foreign trawlers operating in the maritime boundaries of Pakistan in Balochistan have stopped fishing activities since August 2021, following a series of protests by the local people.
The secretary Ministry of Maritime Affairs was responding to various questions raised by the members of the Senate Standing Committee on Maritimes Affairs held here under the chairmanship of Senator Rubina Khalid.
He said that the Chinese trawlers had returned on August 25, 2021 and the ministry has completely shut down both trawlers and joint ventures.
The committee reviewed the issue of illegal fishing trawlers in the territorial waters of Balochistan and the measures taken by the ministry to curb illegal fishing by foreign trawlers, and the Pakistan Merchant Marine Policy 2001.
Ahmed further informed the panel that a total 25,000 fishing boats were operating in the waters of Balochistan of which 10,000 are operating on a daily basis.
The ministry has recently managed to get approval of deep fishing rules from the cabinet and set up a vessel monitoring system to monitor boats at sea, the committee was informed.
Chairperson Committee Senator Rubina Khalid raised the question of whether any action is being taken against illegal trawlers.
The panel was informed that illegal fishing activities are a punishable crime and anybody guilty could face up to five years of imprisonment and Rs10 million fine.
Senator Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo said that the issue of trawlers has been going on for a long time and there was a massive protest by local fishermen in Gwadar on September 30, 2021 against illegal trawlers.
Senator Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo said that steps should also be taken to stop inter-provincial trawling.
Responding to Senator Bizenjo’s suggestion the federal secretary Maritimes Affairs said that stopping the inter-provincial trawling activities was the provincial government’s responsibility.
He said that his ministry has written letters to the relevant departments of the Sindh and Balochistan provincial governments to take necessary actions in this connection.
In order to stop trawling, the secretaries of Sindh and Balochistan have been requested to ban the raw material of net used for trawling.
Senator Rubina Khalid, after a thorough review of the matter, said that the Standing Committee would soon visit Sindh and Balochistan provinces, in which details would be sought from the fisheries authorities on the spot.
The party presented recommendations and suggestions for the prevention of illegal fishing by foreign trawlers.
Secretary, Ministry of Maritime Affairs informed the committee that about 200 trained sailors graduate from Pakistan Marine Academy every year.
The meeting of was attended by senators Abida Mohammad Azeem, Maula Bakhsh Chandio, Kamran Michael, Naseema Ehsan, Mohammad Tahir Bizenjo besides secretary Ministry of Maritime Affairs and senior officials.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021