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Experts urge complying with international requirements for development of fisheries

Posted on 26 September 2017

Karachi, A three-day workshop on capacity building and strengthening of the implementation of Indian Oceans Tuna Commission (IOTC) Conservation and Management Measures was organized jointly by the Marine Fisheries Department and WWF-Pakistan on Tuesday in Karachi. Pakistan is the contracting member of the IOTC and there are several obligations to meet compliances set by the IOTC for conservation and management measures for tuna and tuna-like fishes. Unfortunately, Pakistan is grossly non-compliant for various resolutions of the IOTC which poses a threat to export of tuna and tuna-like fishes from Pakistan.

The IOTC Compliance Support Mission has decided to send a mission to Pakistan to increase compliance of its regulation from 26 to 28 September 2017. In this connection, Gerard Domingue, Compliance Coordinator, IOTC is conducting the mission in Pakistan. Speaking on the occasion, Muhammad Wasim Khan, Director General, Marine Fisheries Department pointed out that tuna fisheries is an important sector of the national economy. About 100,000 m. tons of tuna and tuna-like fish species is annually harvested in Pakistan and the fisheries employs more than 15,000 fishermen. Tuna is caught in Pakistan by about 700 fishing boats using gillnets. There are a number of IOTC resolutions whose compliance is binding on Indian Ocean fishing nations. However, the compliance level is very poor in Pakistan as fisheries are primarily small scale operations marred with a number of issues. Wasim Khan further pointed out that there are a large number of international instruments that fishing nations have to comply with. The Government of Pakistan is endeavouring to meet these requirements. However, because of non-compliance a ban on export of seafood remained imposed on Pakistan from 2007 to 2012 by the European Commission. Similarly, from 1 May 2017, a ban on export of shrimp to the USA was imposed because of non-compliance to US Turtle Excluder Device (TED) Regulation. Speaking on the occasion, Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Adviser, WWF-Pakistan informed that tuna fisheries is of utmost importance for Pakistan as almost all catch from tuna vessels is either exported or transported to neighbouring countries. WWF-Pakistan started a programme in 2012 to support the Government of Pakistan to comply to the international instruments. Accordingly, information about tuna fisheries, fishing seasons, fishing grounds, annual landing and bycatch is being collected by WWF-Pakistan and communicated regularly to the Marine Fisheries Department. WWF-Pakistan started a crew-based observer programme which aims to collect information, especially about bycatch. These observers have been trained to release endangered, protected and threatened species.

Gerard Domingue, Compliance Coordinator, IOTC pointed out that the compliance level to various IOTC Resolutions can be increased if fishermen, concerned government agencies at the provincial and federal level and other stakeholders jointly pool their efforts. He appreciated the support of WWF-Pakistan in the compliance process.

The workshop was attended by representatives from federal and provincial fisheries departments (Sindh and Balochistan), fish harbour authority, representatives of fishermen organizations and other stakeholders.


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