Parliamentary panel informed: foreign trawlers have not carried out any fishing activity since August – Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: Rizwan Ahmed, Federal Secretary of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, informed a parliamentary panel on Thursday that foreign trawlers operating in Pakistan’s maritime borders in Balochistan have ceased their fishing activities since August 2021, following a series of protests from the local population.
The Secretary of the Department of Maritime Affairs responded to various questions raised by members of the Standing Senate Committee on Maritime Affairs held here under the chairmanship of Senator Rubina Khalid.
He said the Chinese trawlers returned on August 25, 2021, and the ministry had completely shut down the trawlers and joint ventures.
The committee discussed the issue of illegal fishing trawlers in the territorial waters of Balochistan and the measures taken by the ministry to combat illegal fishing by foreign trawlers, as well as the Pakistani Merchant Marine Policy of 2001.
Ahmed further informed the panel that a total of 25,000 fishing vessels operate in Balochistan waters, of which 10,000 operate daily.
The ministry recently managed to get cabinet approval for deep-sea fishing rules and put in place a vessel monitoring system to monitor boats at sea, the committee was told.
Senator Rubina Khalid raised the question of whether action is being taken against illegal trawlers.
The panel was informed that illegal fishing activities are a punishable crime and anyone guilty could face up to five years in prison and 10 million rupees in fines.
Senator Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo said the trawler problem 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 action should also be taken to stop interprovincial trawling.
Responding to Senator Bizenjo’s suggestion, the Federal Secretary for Maritime Affairs said stopping interprovincial trawling activities was the responsibility of the provincial government.
He said his ministry had written letters to the relevant departments of the provincial governments of Sindh and Balochistan to take necessary action in this regard.
In order to stop trawling, the secretaries of Sindh and Balochistan were asked to ban the raw material of the nets used for trawling.
Senator Rubina Khalid, after careful consideration of the matter, said the Standing Committee would soon visit the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan, in which details would be sought from the fisheries authorities there.
The party presented recommendations and suggestions for the prevention of illegal fishing by foreign trawlers.
The secretary of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs informed the committee that about 200 trained seafarers graduate from Pakistan Marine Academy every year.
The meeting brought together Senators Abida Mohammad Azeem, Maula Bakhsh Chandio, Kamran Michael, Naseema Ehsan, Mohammad Tahir Bizenjo as well as the Secretary of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and senior officials.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021