The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) on Monday organised a public rally to mark World Fisheries Day, which is celebrated on November 21 every year by the fishing community internationally. This year’s theme for the day is ‘We Live, We Celebrate, We Protect: Fisherfolk, Peasants, Indus River, Indus Delta, Oceans and Our Land’.

The rally was held following a week of action against any construction on islands in Sindh, mangrove deforestation on the coast of the province, the issue of deep-sea trawlers destroying livelihoods of small-scale fishermen and the issue of marine pollution. Participants in the rally marched from Saddar to the Karachi Press Club. Fisherfolk from across Sindh along with human rights activists, civil society representatives, academia, environmental rights activities and researchers were part of the rally.

Addressing the rally, PFF chairman Mehran Ali Shah said that overfishing, environmental pollution, increasing urbanisation and industrial activities had destroyed the natural source of income of the fishing communities living close to the waters, leading to depletion of fish stocks and compelling fisherfolk to leave their traditional means of livelihood.

“The life and livelihoods of 4,500,000 fisherfolk in Sindh and Balochistan is jeopardized due to the increase in marine pollution, unconventional and non-traditional fishing practices by use of destructive nets and deep-sea trawlers for which there is no policy at the federal and provincial level,” he said. Participants in the rally opposed blue growth initiatives that they believe are a setback to the already under-crisis small-scale fisheries in Pakistan.

The speakers opposed any construction on islands on the coast of Karachi.

They demanded that deep-sea trawlers should not be issued licences as they are a threat to the livelihoods of small-scale fishing communities in Pakistan. Fishing communities across Sindh demanded that no industrial and domestic waste be discharged into the sea without treatment in order to reduce marine pollution.