KARACHI-Sindh Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Abdul Bari Pitafi on Tuesday said that the Marine Fisheries Department (MFD), a watchdog force in the sea — has failed to control illegal fishing in the coastline.

Replying to queries of lawmakers during the Question Hour, the minister said that illegal fishing in the sea is continued owing to poor performance of the Marines Fisheries Department, saying that many illegal nets for fishing have been seized. “Marines Fisheries Department is the policing force in the coastal areas but it has failed to perform its job. I don’t know whether it (MFD) make deal with illegal fishermen or its just not capable enough to keep vigilant eye on the act of illegal fishing,” Pitafi said while hinting at the provincial government itself may look after affairs in the sea.

Grand Democratic Alliance’s Nusrat Sehar Abbasi asked the steps taken by the Marines Fisheries Department to control illegal fishing in the sea as well as sweet water, to which the minister said that there were two sections of the fishing — one is Inland fishing and other is Marine Fishing. He said that the Sindh government is responsible for policing the Inland fishing only as the other section is controlled by the MFD.

“We have a proper system at each district comprising directorates who maintain check and balance. The licensed fishermen for inland fishing are also being monitored,” he said. Apprising the action against illegal fishing, Pitafi said all those fishermen and even the contractors who buy fish from them are challaned in the civil courts.

To another question, the Minister said that there was no any environmental or water quality threat to aquatic animals in Manchar Lake, while refuting that any fish died of poor environment. Speaking about the incident in which a large number of fishes was found dead, he said the poachers threw their undersize catch in bulk near the embankment of Manchar Lake after the department took action against illegal fishing. “The department also keeps a vigilant eye upon the catching of under size fish,” he added.

Pitafi also decried the shortage of water for farming of fishes, saying that there were around 4500 ponds in the province but they have been dried up. He added that the tail-end areas have been hit even more in the recent circumstances. Separately, the Minister said that up-gradation of Veterinary center at Kot Mirs Landhi, Taluka Kot Ghulam Muhammad District Mirpurkhas with cost of Rs5.093 million was to be completed by June 2018. However the same has not been completed within stipulated time due to less release of funds during 2017-18. Hence, the execution period of the scheme has been extended for one more year.