KARACHI: Seafood exports, already down by 11.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2018-19, may drop further as trawlers and other boat owners have stopped going for fresh catch of fish and shrimps. At issue is their opposition to the Deep Sea Fishing Licensing Policy 2018.
â€śWe are currently dependent on the arrival of boats and trawlers which are returning to the harbour. Otherwise none of the boat owners are going for fresh catch,â€ť said President Pakistan Fisheries Exporters Association (PFEA), Syed Akhlaq Hussain Abidi.
Out of the 2,000 fishing trawlers, some 20-30 are now in the high seas. These vessels are scheduled to arrive in a day or two. Fish landing has fallen by 20-25 per cent from October till date, Mr Abidi claimed.
Seafood exports plunge 11pc to $67m in first quarter of FY19
Trawler owners are not going for fishing due to fear as Maritime Securities Agency (MSA) had also started implementing the new deep sea policy. One fishing trawler was arrested on October 13 while returning to Karachi harbour despite valid fishing permits from the Sindh government and Customâ€™s Port clearance. The matter is in court.
Countryâ€™s fish exports plunged to 28,185 tonnes ($67 million) versus 29,544 tonnes valuing $76m in same period last fiscal.
Mr Abidi alleged that the new policy is ambiguous about the requirements of seaworthiness and procedures for licensing in Zone-3 for local boats. â€śSimplified rules must be made and time to apply for licence should not close until announced number of boats have received the licence. These must be working boats and no fake licences be given to non-existent boats,â€ť he added.
He suggested that mid-water trawling for 12-35 miles zone while Buffer zone must stay till 35 miles as before.
Patron Sindh Trawlers and Fisherman Association (Stofa), Sarwar Siddiqui said STOFA, PFEA and Fishermen Cooperative Society have moved to the Sindh High Court against the deep sea fishing licensing policy. The hearing is scheduled for November 16.
Mr Siddiqui also claimed that landing of fish would almost come to a standstill in a couple of days as no new trawlers left for fishing in the past two weeks.
Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2018