The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum is a non-governmental organization that works to advance the goal of social, economic, cultural and political rights of small scale indigenous fisher communities in Pakistan. more
Sustainable Fisheries Policy
Sustainable Fisheries Policy
Rationale for a Sustainable Fisheries Policy
The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum(PFF) stands for human dignity, social justice and human rights, for the empowerment of fisher peoples, for food security, sustainable development, social and ecological security, and preferential rights of traditional, artisanal, informal, indigenous, small-scale, coastal, inland, and inshore fisher peoples to marine living resources in coastal waters.
PFF monitors threats to the livelihood of traditional, artisanal, informal, indigenous, small-scale, coastal, inshore fisher peoples who do not resort to trawling, and to protect their legitimate interests in conservation of marine living resources, equitable access to fishery resources, protection of coastal zone including wetlands, marine habitat and the well-being of coastal communities. Pollution from chemical industries, and disordered, uncontrolled aquaculture, destruction of mangroves that destroys the nursery ground of wetlands biodiversity, construction of upstream dams that reduce the flow of nutrient-rich waters from reaching the coast and interrupts the life cycle of aquatic migratory species; destructive fishing gear like bottom trawling without subscribing to a management plan, and industrial fishing, are examples of such threats.
PFF advocates positive recognition of, traditional, artisanal, informal, indigenous, small-scale, coastal, inshore, fisher peoples in the texts of international and regional conventions, agreements, codes, etc, concerning fisheries, biodiversity and coastal and marine ecosystems. PFF demands their recognition also under national and provincial legislation that are adopted to meet international obligations.
PFF recognizes that artisanal and small-scale fisheries using selective fishing techniques could sustainable and equitably harvest most of the marine biodiversity production in the world. In this context, the PFF would like to build up the institutional capacity of its members taking into account, the social, economic, ecological and cultural characteristics of traditional, artisanal, informal, indigenous, small-scale, coastal, and inshore fisheries and fisher peoples.
PFF advocates a national and provincial sustainable fisheries policy for governance, effective conservation and management of fisheries resources and fish habitats, responsible fishing operations, equitable sharing of resources across exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and fair treatment of fishers across borders, safety and better conditions of work at sea and social security, responsible post harvest practice fish marketing and sustainable fish trade for nutritional security, and wise use of inland, coastal and marine biodiversity.
PFF recognizes the importance of having policies governing human development issues in coastal areas like potable and safe drinking water, education for children, and sanitation and health facilities for all.
PFF advocates for sustainable fisheries policies oriented to protected the sustainability of fisheries.
Need for Sustainable Fisheries Policy
Fisheries in Pakistan is not only one of the key economic sectors earning billions of dollars of foreign exchange for the country, but a large number of rural as well as urban communities are also dependent on this sector for the livelihoods. However, the sector is in constant decline as the fish catch is depleting with each passing day. The stocks of important commercial fish species are declining. Un - controlled access and increased population is exerting tremendous pressure on the resources in the absence of effective government oversight. The aquatic systems have been characterized by increased pollution load as a result of increased population in the catchments and urbanization. The bio-diversity of fish may have been affected. Besides, the administration in the sector has been characterized by lack of community participation and operational central oversight which has lead to inadequate enforcement levels.
In such a situation, there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift in the way fisheries should be regulated and managed. Policies usually influence the development agenda that necessitates the revision and/or the introduction of new sectoral policies. Additionally, financial resource allocation to the sector has been very low to the extent that implementation of plans has become difficult. Clear policy in the sector would help in the sustainability of the fish resources and improvement in the sector.
Sustainable Fisheries Policy: Guiding Principles
Objectives of the Sustainable Fisheries Policy
• Protecting fisherfolk communities livelihood resources in the country
• Bringing sustainability in the fisheries resources of Pakistan for the present as well as coming generations.
• Ensuring complete protection and rehabilitation of the coastal as well as fresh water biodiversity
• Ensuring restoration of the ownership rights / custodianship of the communities over their historical / traditional fisheries resources both coastal as well as inland waters
• Utilizing appropriate modern technology for the conservation of fisheries resources
• Bringing improvements in the socio-economic conditions of the fisherfolk communities
• Taking necessary steps to safeguard the social, economic cultural, political and labor rights of the fisherfolk communities
Approach towards Sustainable Fisheries Policy
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) strongly believes that for the satisfaction of present generation’s requirements and the conservation of sustainability of the resources for the future generations a fisheries policy should, basically, comprise on two approaches:
• Optimum utilization of fisheries resources by employing appropriate technology t maintaining the proper environment for aquatic resources
• Sustainable production that may assure the continuous growth in fish resources
The objective of fisheries management should not be yield maximizing. It should minimize the environmental impact of fishing. Such a sustainable fisheries policy would enable the long-term benefits and assure sustenance of the marine ecosystem. The following principles for managing sustainable fisheries should be applied:
• In order to minimize the risk of irreversible damage or distortion, the intensity of fishing should not substantially alter the character of the ecosystem. To achieve this target stocks should be maintained at a high proportion of the biomass.
• A fishery policy should neither jeopardize the ability of any species to withstand naturally nor induce human fluctuations in the environment. It must neither endanger any species population, nor restrain the recovery of threatened or endangered specie.
• Fishing activities should be prohibited in the sensitive areas where they pose a threat to biodiversity, productivity or the characteristic structure and functioning of the marine ecosystems. The destructive impacts of fishing activities on habitats and marine ecosystems must be eliminated.
• Indiscriminate and wasteful forms of fishing must be eliminated. The catch of non-target species or undersized fish in fishing operations must be reduced to the zero. If these non-target species are caught inadvertently they should be returned to the sea alive and in a healthy condition. If vice versa, than it should be brought to the shores, its quantity recorded and thereafter used for human consumption purposes.
Holistic Approach towards Eco-System
The holistic approach to fisheries management and conservation must operate within the broader context of overall protection for the marine and fresh water environment from all potentially harmful human activities. All human activities that may significantly affect the environment [including its watersheds] and marine biodiversity must be accounted through environmental impact assessments. All sorts of adverse impacts must be eliminated.
The overriding objective of the holistic approach is to conduct fisheries activities in a manner that ensures high-level harm proof efforts for the marine and fresh water species or ecosystems.
The holistic approach and precautionary should be applied at all times, even when stocks are abundant. Taking precautionary actions only when fish stocks are low is a reactive response hence that would be the opposite of precaution.
The holistic approach towards fisheries management regimes must take an ecosystem approach in assessing fisheries impacts; that is, they must be designed to address the effects of fisheries on the ecosystem as a whole, not just their effects on a target species.
Under precautionary management, those who seek to exploit marine and fresh water ecosystems and those public institutions, which are responsible for fisheries conservation and management, have a fundamental duty of caring for the fisheries resources and marine and fresh water environment. They must demonstrate their actions publicly taken for the minimal risk of serious or irreversible harm.
No fishery shall be established or expanded until a verifiable, scientific and dynamic management procedure with clear objectives and precautionary reference points has been established.
Precaution should increase with decreasing certainty of scientific data. Where scientific data or other reliable forms of information are inadequate to determine the likely impact of fishing on the populations and the ecosystem, fishing effort should be restricted to an extremely low percentage of the lowest estimate of the un-fished biomass.
Before introducing any new fishing practice or gear types into a fishery, an environmental impact assessment must demonstrate that such methods or gear will have no damaging impact on the target fish populations, other associated species, or their habitats. Existing gears and methods should also be subject to such assessments and damaging gears or methods should be phased out.
Community Based Fishing through Appropriate Technology
PFF seeks a substantial transformation from fisheries production dominated by large-scale, capital-intensive, destructive methods to smaller scale, community-based, labor intensive fisheries using ecologically responsible, selective fishing technology and environmentally sounds practices. PFF believes that this transformation will be socially, economically and culturally beneficial. To achieve this, the following principles should be adhere to:
• Within ecologically sound limits, fisheries must provide for the essential needs of traditionally dependent human communities for essential food and livelihoods. There should be a renewed emphasis on meeting such needs through reliance on regional and local fisheries. The export of a nation's fisheries production should not be at the expense of the environment or domestic consumption needs, nor should it cause any significant adverse social or cultural impact.
• In consideration of the enormous impact of fisheries on marine ecosystems, and their important role for human food security, wasteful fishing practices and fishing done for wasteful purposes must be eliminated. Critical measures in this regard include: the elimination of by catch/discards; the progressive transformation of dedicated industrial reduction fisheries to produce essential protein for direct human consumption, and restriction of fish meal and oil production to the conversion of wastes from fish processing; an end to roe fisheries in which fish carcasses are discarded when they should be used instead to provide food for direct human consumption.
• Every effort should be made to amalgamate scientifically acquired forms of knowledge with traditional, locally acquired knowledge systems. This approach will enable the development of locally appropriate fisheries management regimes, fishing technology and practices designed to meet the objectives of a reformed, low impact fishing industry while, at the same time, safeguarding the rights of traditionally dependent fishing communities to basic food and livelihoods.
• Access rights to fisheries must be consistent with the cultural practices and economic needs of communities that have historically depended on local fisheries and that have consistently demonstrated the capacity to fish in a manner that maintains the integrity of the ecosystem and in accord with the basic principles outlined in this document.
• No new fishing should be started or an existing one expanded until an environmental impact assessment shows minimal risk of environmental harm and a social impact assessment establishes that damaging social impact and disruption will be avoided. Similarly, proposals to introduce new fishing practices or gear types into a fishery must be subjected to the same environmental and social impact assessments in order to avoid negative impact.
Actions and Suggestions of Sustainable Fisheries Policy
Guard the rights of fisher peoples
The rights of traditional, artisanal, informal, indigenous, small-scale, coastal, inshore, fishing communities to the fishery resources pertaining to their traditional fishing grounds, and whether or not they use fishing gear, should be specially safeguarded. These rights include the right of these communities to participate in the use, management and conservation of these resources.
Develop management regimes for coastal living and non-living resources
The importance of fisheries management should be recognized, especially regimes that could ideally provide sustainable employment and income for the same, or even lower, level of fishery production.
National fisheries legislation should mainly be for the conservation of marine fisheries resources and for the protection of those who work on board fishing vessels. This could be followed by an integrated legislation for fisheries and aquaculture encompassing both marine and inland waters, where appropriate. Harmonized and sustainable fisheries both in the territorial waters and the EEZ are possible only within a national legislation framework.
In the light of new developments in relation to oil and gas exploration and exploitation, it is important to adopt legislation not only for living resources like fish and other forms of biodiversity, but also to manage exploration and exploitation of non-living resources of the EEZ such as oil reserves. In all these legislation, a human perspective should be maintained.
There is need for effective legislation to prevent marine pollution from fishery and non-fishery sources both in the territorial and national waters.
All fisheries and fish habitat related activities should be combined under a fisheries ministry, where appropriate, including measures to protect mangroves, corals, and marine endangered species such as turtles, dolphins, whales and selected shark species.
Promote selective and labour-intensive fishing
Promote the use of selective and labour-intensive fishing gear and techniques and phase out, or prohibit, trawling, towards sustainable fisheries and sustainable employment.
Regulate or prohibit trawling and other forms of destructive fishing
The destructive power of trawlers should be regulated considering that the fishing power of each trawler is much higher today than ever before. Several trawl gear that are used are designed to be species-, bottom-, and water-column-specific and are far more efficient than conventional trawls.
Harmful fishing gear like mini trawl and destructive nets and certain forms of monofilament nets should be prohibited, if necessary.
There should be restrictions on craft-gear-engine combinations in artisanal and small-scale fisheries, if necessary.
Improve institutional arrangements for fisheries management
Fisheries management should be based on the subsidiary principle and there should be devolution of fisheries management functions to the local level.
In addition to government initiatives, local fishing communities should be encouraged to take up fleet reduction and effort control programmes.
Co-management or government working in partnership with fisheries stakeholders for managing fisheries is an important management tool if rightly implemented. The role of government should mainly be that of a facilitator, undertaking enforcement functions in local-level fisheries management issues only under exceptional circumstances.
There should be flexible arrangements where the need for setting up zones for powered/non-powered fishing vessels is locally determined.
Genuine member-based co-operatives and trade unions of fisher peoples should be promoted. Member-controlled fishers’ cooperatives and trade unions should be allowed to function, where the scope of cooperative and trade union is redefined to include not only marketing and supply of inputs, and organization of fishers, but also resource management.
Introduce employment guarantee schemes for workers in fisheries
There is need to address the informal nature of the artisanal and small-scale fisheries sector, especially the need for government support in the form of guaranteed employment to workers in fisheries, and the need to highlight the right to adequate food and national food security, including that of the fishing and coastal communities, taking into account the 2004 FAO Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security.
Improve welfare measures for fishers
Welfare benefits should mainly address the needs of fishworkers and their dependents, and those who have only rudimentary fishing equipment.
Social security provisions should be extended to the fisheries sector including: medical care, sickness benefit, unemployment benefit, old-age benefit, employment injury benefit, family benefit, maternity benefit, invalidity benefit and survivors’ benefit.
Mechanisms to prevent abuse of fishworkers under both wage system and share system should be developed. There should be minimum wage provision under the wage system, and a minimum wage equivalent share should be mandatory in a share system.
Provisions for minimum age, medical examination, occupational safety and health and fishers’ work agreement, identity document in the proposed International Labour Organization (ILO) fishing convention should be extended to fishers on board artisanal and small-scale fishing vessels that undertake international voyages.
Women in processing and pre-processing sub-sectors, both domicile and migrant, should have minimum wage and medical assistance, as well as protection of their rights. In addition to other benefits, migrant women workers should be provided with decent and safe accommodation.
. Benefits of international trade should contribute to human development of artisanal and small-scale fishing communities.
Introduce sea safety measures for fishers
Sea safety measures should be incorporated into fisheries legislation at the state level. Training for safety should be made mandatory for all fishers. All fishing vessels should have life saving equipment on board and they should be maintained in working order.
Treat fishers arrested for illegal fishing in a humane manner
Coastal State penalties for violations of fisheries laws and regulations in the EEZ should not include imprisonment or any other form of corporal punishment. Penalties for illegal fishing should be based on the principles of necessity and proportionality.
There should be exchange of fishing register between neighboring countries, to avoid unnecessary arrests of fishers. If fishers are detained while undertaking fishing operations by a coastal State the flag State should look after the fishers’ families during the period of their incarceration.
International trade in fish and fish products should not harm fisher peoples
Fisher peoples especially women in local communities should be protected from unhealthy competition from the importation of fish and fish products.
WTO agreements of relevance to fisheries should protect the livelihood interests of artisanal and small-scale fishers. Tariff escalation of fish and fish products should be eliminated
Movements similar to organic agriculture should be developed in fisheries, especially to sell ‘safe fish’, based on self-regulations and independent standards acceptable to consumers worldwide. Women should also experience the dignity of undertaking their own initiatives for improving the quality of fish.
Improve fish handling, health and hygiene facilities in marketplaces
Promoting health and hygiene in fish markets should be considered important. Regulations to improve hygiene standards should first be implemented in harbors and landing centers. Coastal local-level administrative units should be involved in keeping beaches and fish landing centres clean of debris and filth. There should be provision for toilets in market places, raised platform for keeping fish, and safe water in adequate quantity and quality to help improve health and hygiene standards.
There should be training and support to women to improve quality of fish sold.
Fishers’ associations should manage infrastructure facilities like fish landing centres and fishing harbours. They should be used as a tool for improved fleet management and quality control.
Fisheries access agreements should be socially-responsible
International fisheries agreements, particularly between the European Union and third countries in the developing world should not adversely impact upon the life and livelihood of artisanal, informal, indigenous, small-scale, coastal, and inshore fisher peoples. Negotiation of such agreements should ensure their participation.
Fisheries access agreements between national Government and transnational companies should be consultated with other stakeholder.
Artisanal, informal, indigenous, small-scale, coastal, inshore fisher people should be recognized as people with important and decisive informal advice, before any agreement that can affect their livelihood.
Consider fisher peoples as an ally in conserving coastal and marine biodiversity
Artisanal, informal, indigenous, small-scale, coastal, inshore fisher peoples should be recognized as powerful allies in the efforts to conserve, restore and protect coastal and marine biodiversity. It is important to protect and strengthen their rights to access and use biodiversity in a responsible manner to pursue sustainable livelihoods, and to participate in decision-making and resource management processes at all levels.
Recognize traditional ecological knowledge of traditional, artisanal, informal, indigenous, small-scale, coastal, inshore fisher peoples and ensure equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of traditional knowledge, innovations, and practices relevant to the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components.
Develop effective disaster management regimes in coastal areas
Considering the vulnerability of coastal populations, particularly fisher peoples, to natural disasters such as cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis, effective participatory mechanisms should be developed at the regional, national, and local levels to prevent, or if that is difficult, to mitigate the effect of natural disasters on the life and livelihood of fishing communities, and to help them rebuild their fisheries-based livelihoods in a time-bound manner.