Speakers called for sustainable fisheries policy at a ‘Roundtable Meting on Fisheries’ organized by Pakistan National Committee (PNC) of IUCN. The meeting was facilitated by PNC Chairman, Mr. Javed Jabbar while representatives of fishermen community, social society representatives, government officials from Balochistan, NWFP and Sindh also attended the meeting.

Speaking on the occasion, Javed Jabbar said fish industry contributed just 0.9 percent to overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and less than one percent of national employment but in coastal Balochistan and in Karachi, fisheries were major source of income and employment.

"Marine fisheries resources are renewable but they are being over exploited and depleting from environmental factors. Our fishermen are dealing with about 1300 species of fish and there is a need to manage the sector scientifically for sound and sustained development of fisheries", he added. In order to meet acute shortage of animal protein in the country, it is essential that efforts are directed towards development of inland and coastal fisheries in order to achieve significant increase in fish production with a reasonable short period, he said.

The Federal Commissioner of Fisheries, Dr. Mohammad Hayat, in his keynote presentation said new national fisheries policy was being framed-up while keeping in view all aspects of fisheries sector.

Director Fisheries and Wildlife Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Yousuf Qureshi said at least 67 species of fish are found in upper part of Kashmir and added they had divided Kashmir into two-divisions, i.e. cold water and warm water fishing. He said 20 training courses were being conducted by them in different disciplines to increase production of fish in Azad Kashmir. He informed that some constraints like lack of hatchery facilities and firing from the Indian Army was harming fish business in Kashmir.

Ms. Zubaida Birwani said fisher folk were always neglected by the government and they are facing problems in getting education, health and others necessities of life. In her opinion fisheries shouldn’t be included in food and agriculture ministries should have a separate ministry. She said due to poverty, wives of fishermen were now doing work in factories and houses for earning their livelihood.

Mohammad Ali Shah of Pakistan Fisher folk Forum said threats of deep-sea fishing and discharge of millions of gallons of industrial waste and 7000 ton garbage of the city into sea were destroying fish resources. He said due to these brutal acts, blue water of sea had now turned into black water adding contract system in fishing had made fishermen slaves of the government. "Real owners of fishing are those living on fresh water from centuries and they are living below poverty line", he added.

Haji Shafi Mohammad Jamote, Former Vice Chairman Fishermen Cooperative Society said that government was granting all the mega projects to the city and the fishermen were still deprived of all basic facilities of life.

Mohammad Zeeshanul Haq, Director Planning, Balochistan Coastal Development Authority (BCDA) Zafarullah Baloch, Secretary Fisheries Balochistan, Shamsul Haq Memon, Consultant Coastal Development Authority, Mahmmod Ahmed Khan, Secretary Forest and Wildlife, Sindh Forest and Wildlife Department, Nazneen Ansari, Director General EPA, Mohammad Alam, Dilshad Fish and Shrimp Farms, Shahabuddin Memon, Sec-cum-Director Sindh Coastal Development Authority, Dr Nasim Akhtar, Deputy Director of Animal Sciences Institute, National Agriculture Research Center Islamabad, Commander Mohammad Zakir, Director (Operation) Mari Time Security Agency, Umar Hayat, Director of Fisheries NWFP, Syed Aziz Agha from Agha's Sportfishing and other high ranking Govt. officials and representatives of civil society organizations attended the meeting. Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema thanked the participants for their valuable participation.