KARACHI - Fisherwomen vowed to lead campaign against increasing pollution and degradation of fresh water bodies, saying they will continue to be custodians of these resources like their forefathers.

They opposed contract system at rivers and illegal encroachment which destroys the natural beauty of lakes, community activists said only fishermen should have right of livelihood from lakes.

Fatima Majeed, senior vice chairperson Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), said this while presiding over an 11-member governing body meeting on Sunday and reiterated her pledge that they will lead the week-long campaign March 8 -14 and celebrate International Day of Action for Rivers and Against Dams at the river bank near famous Al-Manzar, Jamshoro.

Hundreds of people, belonging to different waters will participate in the event to show their strength and put across the message.

Fatima appealed to fisherwomen to come forward to protect natural resources and own the same for their life and livelihoods. Legislators involved in backing certain feudal lords and tribal chiefs to encroach waters should be brought to justice and ensure the right to live to fishermen, who have been neglected in terms of development.

PFF General Secretary Saeed Baloch, Zulekha, Ramzan Mallah, Ayoub Shan, Talib Kachhi, Ishaq Meerani, Juman Mallah, Majid Motani and others, representing marine and inland waters attended the meeting. It was decided that the central executive committee will announce the schedule of week-long activities on March 7 in Hyderabad. These activities will be organised at district level to protect lakes, wetlands and canals through motivating community women and men about the significant role of these resources.

Saeed Baloch said they are mobilising fishermen, farmers and herdsmen in the entire country to join hands to restore the natural flow of rivers. In fact protecting Indus Delta, mangroves and riverine forests is the part of PFF’s ‘keep river free movement’. The meeting also appealed to Pakistan and Indian governments to resolve the sea territory issue and stop arresting fishermen in both sides.

He urged upon the PML-N and PPP leaders to play their role and recognise rights of fishermen and announce development packages for providing them basic facilities, like schools, health and potable water.

He said after destruction of riverine forests, mangroves forests are under threats of being depleted fast by certain elements, utilising the clean forest land for commercial purposes.

The participants came from Karachi, Kashmore, Qambar, Sukkr, Badin, Thatta, Sujawal, Umerkot and Sanghar. The colorful international rivers day will be celebrated enthusiastically as usual at the river bank, in which hundreds of people will participate to show their love to the river.