The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) took to the streets this November to raise awareness about ocean grabbing and to promote the implementation of the voluntary guidelines for small scale fisheries.
Quoting the PFF “World Fisheries day is celebrated every year on November 21 throughout the world by fisherfolk communities. Fishing communities worldwide celebrate this day through rallies, workshops, public meetings, cultural programs, dramas, exhibition and music shows.”
PFF celebrated with various activities. For example, a seminar on the illegal occupation of fresh water bodies was hosted in Sindh. Despite reforms over the years a “number of water bodies are under control by influential people mostly belonging to the feudal class.” Fishing communities face huge stumbling blocks in navigating the bureaucracy involved in accessing licenses in Sindh. PFF conducted a seminar educating people about the legitimate rights of fishing communities. Nearly about 300 men and women, peasants, laborers, minorities, media, civil society and person belonging to different walks of life participated in the seminar jointly and actively.
Tribute to Thomas Kocherry
During the week of action tribute was made to the late Father Thomas Kocherry – a true hero and legend in the struggle for the rights of small scale fishers. Father Kocherry was the founder of the WFFP and fought tirelessly for fishers rights world wide. The event was moderated by Mr. Ayoub Shan (Information Secretary, PFF). The welcome note was presented by Mr. Yousif Kadani and then Mr. Ayoub Shan presented a presented a paper on his life and achievements. Ms. Tahira Ali Shah (Ex. Senior Chairperson of PFF) said fishermen communities called him the “Father of Fishermen” due to his uncompromising efforts for the rights of the fishing communities. She also read out a poem in his memory. Ms. Tahira Ali, Samina Kadani and Mr. Azhar Shan also presented a song which Father often used to sing whenever he visited Pakistan.
Rally against Ocean grabbing, mangroves forests degradation and marine pollution
The main objectives of the World Fisheries day rally as to raise awareness among masses regarding ocean grabbing in Pakistan and to put pressure on the government to adopt the International Guidelines on Small-Scale Fisheries and to save the livelihoods and rights of the fishing communities.
In addition the rally also sought to sound the alarm on the protection of natural resources and indigenous peoples rights, and to take action against Ocean Grabbing. Furthermore, fishers raised concern regarding the earth’s climate and how climate change is destabilizing the planet. The PFFs message was loud and clear : “Fishers’ livelihood resources are depleting drastically and ocean grabbing is compelling them towards displacement and food insecurity.”
Orating to rally Vice Chairperson of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum Mr. Mustafa Mirani said:
“PFF celebrates World Fisheries Day every year to highlight importance of fisheries; theme of this year is Action against the Ocean Grabbing and the implementation of Voluntary Guidelines on Small-Scale Fisheries. 100 million metric tons of fish consumed in a year globally, despite that the livelihoods of fishing communities are on the borderline of devastation. Although there are no boundaries for fish, Pakistani Fishermen are arrested by the Indian Navy and Indian Fishermen are arrested by Pakistani Navy! Recently 61 fishermen of Pakistan were arrested by Navy of India. Some masked forces are grabbing coastal, wetlands especially Keenjhar Lake and Manchar Lake of Sindh to develop mega cities and other projects.”
To read the full report on the PFFs week of action read: Week of Action Against Ocean grabbing and implementation of voluntary guidelines on small scale fisheries.