Pakistani’s traditional fishing communities expressed their concerns last week about their mounting economic pressures, after inflated fuel prices have severely reduced their activity in the open water.
Spokesman Sami Memon of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) stated his disappointment at the lack of aid from the Fishermen Cooperative Society (FCS) – a community welfare organization – saying that ‘it is unable to play its due role in saving the lives and livelihoods of the fishermen, as the families of the poor crew members end up being victims of this phenomenon and face a starvation-like situation if the boats stay anchored at the harbor’.
‘Fifteen to twenty years ago the fishermen were happy but now they are unable to run their households, as the expenses have increased manifold, pushing the fishermen to find better alternative for their families’ survival’, he added.
President of the Sindh Trawlers Owners Association, Khan Mir, also expressed his dismay towards the current crisis. Mir highlighted that while around 500 boats used to gather in the Karachi Fish Harbor at the start of the fishing season, today this number has been reduced dramatically, and only two of his fleet of fourteen boats are sent out to sea on a daily basis.
The current situation affects both boat owners and crew members. Boat owners, after being forced to reduce all the outgoing costs of fuel, ration and taxes, currently receive only 50 per cent of the share, the rest of which is distributed among crew members.
Fisherfolk used to be able to purchase fuel on credit from oil shops and repay them after selling their catch, but this is no longer an option as they are unable to catch sufficient quantities of fish and previous suppliers are no longer trusting of them.
The government’s reluctance to subsidize fishing equipment in Pakistan – which currently facilitates the activities of fishing communities in other coastal countries – is causing concern that the whole fishing industry will suffer greater losses still.