Amina Shahzadi, Green Blogger

World Fisheries day is celebrated every year on November 21 throughout the world by the fisher folk communities. Fishing communities worldwide celebrate this day through rallies, workshops, public meetings, cultural programs, dramas, exhibition, music show, and demonstrations to highlight the importance of maintaining the world's fisheries. A recent United Nations study reported that more than two-thirds of the world's fisheries have been overfished or are fully harvested and more than one third are in a state of decline because of factors such as the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution, and global warming.

The World Fisheries Day helps in highlighting the critical importance to human lives, of water and the lives it sustains, both in and out of water. Water forms a continuum, whether contained in rivers, lakes, and ocean. Fish forms an important part of the diets of people around the world, particularly those that live near rivers, coasts and other water bodies. A number of traditional societies and communities are rallied around the occupation of fishing. This is why a majority of human settlements, whether small villages or mega cities, are situated in close proximity to water bodies. Besides the importance of water for survival and as a means of transportation, it is also an important source of fish and aquatic protein.

But this proximity has also lead to severe ocean and coastal pollution from run-off and from domestic and industrial activities carried out near-by. This has led to depletion of fish stocks in the immediate vicinity, requiring fishermen to fish farther and farther away from their traditional grounds. Besides, overfishing and mechanization has also resulted in a crisis - fish sticks are being depleted through 'factory' vessels, bottom trawling, and other means of unsustainable fishing methods. Unless we address these issues collectively, the crisis will deepen. The World Fisheries Day helps to highlight these problems, and moves towards finding solutions to the increasingly inter-connected problems we are facing, and in the longer term, to sustainable means of maintaining fish stocks.

Did you know?

  • Small-scale fisheries (marine and inland) employ about 90 percent of those involved in fisheries.
  • 65 percent of the reported catch from inland fisheries is from low-income food-deficit countries.
  • Estimates vary, but from around 30 million to over 60 million people in the developing world are involved in inland fisheries; it is thought that about 50 percent are women.
  • More than 25% of the world’s dietary protein is provided by fish.
  • The human population consumes over 100 million tons of fish annually
  • According to the latest estimates, the total area covered by fish ponds across all provinces is about 60 470 ha, with Sindh having 49 170 ha, Punjab 10 500 ha, NWFP 560 ha and the other provinces (Balochistan, Azad Jammu Kashmir [AJK] and Northern Area [NA]) 240 ha.1.2Human resources.
  • About 13 000 fish farms have so far been established across Pakistan, the size of these farms varies considerably, however, the average farm size ranges form 5-10 ha. No direct data on the number of fish farmers employed in this sector is available as fish farming in most parts of the country is carried out as an integral part of crop farming.
  • According to a best estimate, about 50 000 people are either directly or indirectly employed in the sector.

Aquaculture began in Pakistan as a small-scale side line of crop farmers, however, with the emergence of fish hatcheries operated by the public sector, there is a movement towards larger fish farms particularly with the entry of business men into this sector. This effect, however, is area specific and confined to areas close to big cities such as Lahore and Multan as well as in Sindh where people have large land holdings, the management of large water bodies and the construction of large farms are now common here.

In Pakistan, the participation of women in fisheries is common among the fishing communities but among fish farmer’s women usually do not participate in the business when it is an independent company. However, women are engaged in aquaculture activities when it is part of a family enterprise and help is required in feeding, planting grasses in the ponds and guarding the ponds when the farm is close to the house.

About one-third of the fishing ground resources are on the verge of complete depletion as they have been used more than their capacities. This has led to an alarming call to stop over conducting fishing activities and to bring a transformation in the industry. Replenishment of lives into these sources to enrich them once gain is a pending task. Water bodies need to be cared for, they should be kept clean and tidy, and human activities close to fishing grounds should be well maintained. Fishing is not a modern-day profession. It’s an ancient practice and people put in a lot of sweat and hard work to harvest fish from seas and oceans.

 About the Author: Amina Shahzadi has done BS Environmental Science From GC Sialkot. Currently, she is doing  MPhil Environmental Science from UVAS , Lahore. She is Interested in writing articles, blogs and information related to Environmental Science, Climate change, Bioremediation, solid waste management.