QUETTA - With fishermen using Mash net for fishing at Balochistan coast, the illegal netting has dwindled export of quality fish.

This was pointed out during a roundtable conference held in Gwadar the other day on the topic of ‘Issues in Fisheries and Coastal Area Development in Balochistan’ organised by Chief Minister’s Policy Reform Unit, Strengthening Participatory Federalism and Decentralization Project UNDP in collaboration with Fisheries Department Government of Balochistan.

The roundtable conference was aimed at improving the life standards of the people linked with the fisheries, living at coastal areas and bringing to fore their issues.

The roundtable was attended by Secretary Fisheries Mohammad Iqbal Khossa, Head of Chief Minister’s Policy Reform Unit Dr Kaiser Bengali, Chairman Gwadar Port Dosteen Jamaldini, DG Gwader Development Authourity Dr Sajjad Baloch, former provincial speaker Akram Dashti, former provincial minister Zahoor Buledi, IUCN consultant Tahir Qureshi, Coordinatior to Chief Minster’s Policy Reform Unit Dr Ishaque Baloch, fishermen and other people from social sector and political parties.

All participants appreciated the efforts taken by Chief Minter’s Policy Reform Unit and UNDP for conducting such a consultative conference. All the concerned stake holders were allowed to participate and elaborate the issues facing a common fisherman and the problems found in the coastal belt.

Speaking on the occasion, the representatives of the fishermen said that in fisheries sector, unavailability of clean drinking water, missing facilities of boats, no proper cooling system, lack of innovative and modern equipment, untrained and non-skilled labour, illegal smuggling of Iranian oil were some major problems which were creating hurdles for the fishermen.

“But, on the top of all and alarming issues is illegal trolling in the coastal waters,” they said, adding that such illegal practices were very dangerous for the overall marine ecosystem and creating obstruction for the overall business of a common fisherman.

On the occasion, Chairman Gwadar Port Dostain Khan Jamaldini said the dwindling ratio of export of quality fish was due to illegal netting as fishermen were using Mash net for fishing.

“This practice should be abolished,” he said and added that government was committed to provide all facilities at the fish harbor. He said there was a need to adopt new and modern techniques for processing, storing, packing and transporting the sea food. He also urged to train the fishermen with modern practicing techniques.

Former provincial minister for GDA Zahoor Buledi said that flow of fund from provincial government was very slow and stressed that it should be sped up because fisheries sector was very lucrative business but missing facilities in jetties and harbor, inter-connected road networks should be constructed on immediate basis. He said fishermen should be declared a Labour and the labour laws and international conventions should be followed in this sector.

Director General GDA, Dr Sajjad Hussain Baloch said social issues shall be discussed with the public concerned and community development would bring positive changes to create awareness about the problems and make opportunities available in the coastal area for fishermen.

He said Balochistan was enriched in natural resources and to tap this, GDA was working on construction of two jetties in Surbunder and Pishukan.

“When these jetties will become functional, it will boost up the business of the local fishermen and the residents,” he said and added that private groups shall come forward to invest in the coastal area development, tourism industry which would provide a chance of development to the coastal area.