PAKISTAN: Safety of Fisher People–World Fisheries Day–

On November 21, the occasion of the World Fisheries Day, the Asian Human Rights Commission is forwarding this following joint press release from the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and the World Forum of Fisher Peoples.

All over the World Fisher people are facing violating borders in the process of fishing. It is very common and severe between Pakistani and Indian sea boarders. Since the sea borders are not earmarked the Fisher People of both the countries are facing a lot of hardships like arrest detention, court cases etc. It is a perennial problem. There are many stories like landing in jails for several years. There are criminal charges filed against Fisher People. The assets of fishers like catch, vessels, nets and other belongings are snatched away. Hence, they are left in total misery. Why should these small scale fisher people fishing for livelihood landing in jails? What about the sufferings the families have to undergo? Is there any humanity left in this World? Is there a way out?

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) has been highlighting this grave issue at national, regional and international levels since last many years. But unfortunately the responsible authorities have turned a blind eye to this extreme violation of the fundamental human rights of the fishers. However, PFF has been successful to get a number of detained fishers released from the jails of both the countries through litigation and judicial process but the issue is still unresolved. Even today hundreds of fishers are surviving in the prisons of both the countries and being treated as the prisoners of war.

There are many ways to solve these problems if both border countries collaborate. We need to get the United Nations (UN) to involve in this issue in order to enact the international laws like the Law of the Sea. We propose a buffer zone comprising of 100 nautical miles i.e. 50 nautical miles each from the sea bordering area of either countries which should be declared as Common Peace Area (CPA). In this CPA fisher people in both the countries should obtain No Objection Identity Card counter signed by the authorities of both the countries so that fishers could freely fish. Each Fishing vessel should carry a CPA flag. This CPA should be ear marked by floats.

Under the theme of “Safety of Fisher People”, we at PFF also include the sub theme of ‘Protection of Fisher People’ to address the issues of illegal occupation on fresh water bodies, displacement of fishing communities in the name of land reclamation and development. Besides, environmental degradation of water bodies, marine pollution, deforestation of riverine and mangroves forests and land grabbing are some other dangerous issues the fishers need to be protected.

Document Type : Forwarded Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-FPR-051-2013
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Environmental protection, Judicial system, Rule of law,