HYDERABAD, May 6: Fishermen have asked the federal government to handover control of the ocean to Sindh and Balochistan and hoped the new setup will resolve their problems.
They demanded release of water into Indus delta; bringing to an end to arrest of fishermen; resolution of the controversy over Sir Creek; replacement of contract system with license system; announcement of national fisheries policy; halting construction of dams on River Indus; and cancellation of the sale of islands and water front and Sugar Land City projects.
The demands were raised at a function held on Monday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum. A large number of fishermen from Sindh and coastal areas of Balochistan and provincial ministers for fisheries and culture, Rafique Engineer and Ms Sassui Palijo attended the function. Fishermen came from different places in caravans and raised slogans in support of their demands.
The PFF Central Chairman Syed Mohammad Ali Shah, General Secretary Saeed Baloch and central and district office-bearers cut the cake. Tableaux was followed by a musical program and attended among others by a large number of women.
Syed Mohammad Ali Shah said though four million Pakistani fishermen earned Rs12 billion in foreign currency but themselves were living in abject poverty and deprived of all basic facilities. He said the Forum was formed in 1998 to protect the rights of fishermen and alleviate their suffering.
Sindh Minister for Fisheries Rafique Engineer said he was fully alive to the problems faced by tens of thousands of fishermen of Sindh. He assured to abolish contract system at all costs with fishermen to be given the right to catch fish in fresh waters of Sindh.
Sindh Minister for Culture and Tourism Ms Sassui Palijo praised the fishermen’s struggle. She said six UCs of her constituency were dominated by fishermen who had been living there for centuries and added that she was elected due to their votes, and of women.
She said the rights of fishermen over sweet waters of Sindh will be guaranteed and a mega project will be launched to generate jobs for them.
Others who spoke on the occasion included Nazeer Memon and central leaders of the forum, Saeed Baloch, Tahira Ali, Mithan Mallah, Gulab Shah, and Abdul Rehman Mallah.
Sindh fishermen to get rights: ministers
Sindh Minister for Culture and Tourism Sassui Palijo on Tuesday assured fishermen that the government would take all measures to improve their lives and look into tabling a bill in the provincial assembly to do away with the contract system in sweet waters.
She expressed these views while addressing the ceremony of completion of 10 years of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) here. Sassui said the fishermen community had worked hard under the banner of the PFF to fight for their rights and announced that the government would give due rights to the community.
She said the rights of fishermen to catch fish in sweet waters would be accepted and all obstacles in this regard would be removed. She said the government was considering tabling a bill in the Sindh Assembly to do away with the contract system.
On the occasion, provincial minister Rafiq Engineer said the government would abolish the contract system for the sweet waters of the province. PFF Chairman Muhammad Ali Shah said the fishermen community was about four million strong in the country and provided Rs 12 billion per annum to the national exchequer but got no facility in return.
He hoped that the government would abolish the contract system, end the arrests of fishermen and acknowledge the rights of fishermen to catch fish and earn their livelihood. Tableaux were also presented on the occasion.