From the floor of the Sindh Assembly – EU to lift seafood ban soon?

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KARACHI – Sindh Fisheries Minister Zahid Bhurgari on Monday informed the Sindh Assembly that the government has renovated the Karachi Fish Harbour and the European Union (EU)’s might lift its ban on Pakistan’s seafood soon. The EU had banned the country’s seafood in 2007 causing massive losses to its industry. When an EU mission visited the harbour in 2007, they found some deficiencies both at the harbour and processing units.
Responding to a question asked by PPP lawmaker Shama Arif Mithani during the Question Hour, the minister said that the developmental scheme worth Rs 555.951 million would complete by June 2011. The project includes, he added, procurement of an M&E (Monitoring and Evaluation) system for handling port operations; upgrading and modification of large and small boats; hiring armed security guards; providing janitorial services; and conducting offshore investigations.
The major objectives of the project are maintaining hygienic conditions in boats for maintaining the quality of fish catch; handling the fish catch in crates; improving landing facilities to reduce turnaround time of fishing vessels; providing modernised facilities to increase the export of fish; and to improve the quality of shrimp through scientific and hygienic handling at the harbour, Bhurgari added.
Replying to another question, the minister confirmed that a landing jetty has been constructed at the fish harbour though it is being utilised by fishermen using Hora boats. Under the scheme, he added, provision of land plots for chilled storage and processing facilities have also been approved at Zero Point in Badin and Keenjhar Lake in Dadu.
To a question asked by National People’s Party’s Arif Mustafa Jatoi, the provincial fisheries minister admitted that fish production has reduced in the province and the major reasons for this are over-exploitation of shrimps through 2,000 fishing boats; deforestation of mangroves which are supposed to be natural nurseries of shrimps; and pollution through dumping of industrial, agriculture wastes and oil in the sea.
The minister said that fish stocks in Keenjhar Lake are depleting gradually due to water pollution from influx to Kotri industries, and boats and vehicles wastage, silting from KB Feeder, non-reception of river fish seed, over-fishing, use of illegal nets, and escape of fish from outlet. However, he added, the government has taken various steps to protect livelihood of local fishermen, those includes abolishment of contract system on fishing and fixing net at outlet to control escape of fish from the lake.
Bhurgari admitted that no survey on fish population has been carried out in Sindh during the last 30 years by the Exclusive Economic Zone, which works under the Federal Livestock and Dairy Development Ministry. Responding to a query by PPP’s Farheen Mughal, the minister confirmed that the government has approved a scheme worth Rs 24.615 million to promote the development of fish culture in paddy fields.
To a question asked by the PPP’s Kulsoom Chandio, Bhurgari said the government has also approved a scheme for introduction of culture of high-value brackish water fish in Thatta and Badin districts. The cost of the scheme is Rs 48.096 million, he added.