WWF and Engro partner to promote marine life conservation and to build resilient coastal communities in Pakistan

Karachi (Muhammad Yasir) Emphasizing on the need to address the knowledge gaps, speakers said that modern technology should be adopted to collect fisheries data in Pakistani waters. They said that endangered marine animals should be protected by reducing by-catch, promoting target fisheries and tackling post-harvest losses. Alternative livelihood options should be provided to the fisher communities specially women along Sindh coast, they said while speaking at a workshop organized in Karachi by WWF-Pakistan under its Sustainable Fisheries Entrepreneurship project supported by Engro Vopak Terminal Ltd..

In his opening speech, Hammad Naqi Khan Director General, WWF-Pakistan said that for the first time in Pakistan digitization of fisheries data has been initiated. WWF-Pakistan through its capacity building programme has trained 30 fishermen to use android-based mobile application system to collect fish catch data. He said that the initiative will help academia and policy makers to abridge data gaps, undertake research studies on various aspects of fisheries and formulate robust fisheries regulations. He appreciated the support of different stakeholders in the conservation of flagship marine animals. He was of the view that WWF-Pakistan has been working to improve the existing fishing practices and is taking efforts to minimise fishing induced mortalities of the Endangered, Threatened and Protected (ETP) species including marine dolphins, whales, sharks and turtles among others. He noted that conversion of fishing gear from gillnets to longline has promising results and the technique is helping to reduce the bycatch. He emphasized on the need to provide better livelihood opportunities to the local fishers who are playing instrumental role in protection of marine megafauna.

Speaking on the occasion, CEO Engro Vopak and Elengy Terminal Ltd., Yusuf Siddiqui highlighted Engro’s commitment towards solving the most pressing issues of Pakistan through the Company’s diverse business operations as well as its CSR interventions. He added, “The Sustainable Fisheries Entrepreneurship Project aims to address the extremely important issue of overfishing by bringing together multiple stakeholders, including the private sector, government, civil society and local community groups, who are working together to promote the conservation of marine life and to build resilient coastal communities in Pakistan. We are excited to partner with WWF on the project and look forward to creating lasting impact in this area.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Tahir Rasheed, Director Wildlife, WWF-Pakistan said that increase in fishing fleets, unsustainable fishing practices, release of untreated wastewater in sea and overexploitation of fisheries resources are posing serious threat to marine ecosystem in Pakistan. He shared that livelihood diversification and skill development initiatives can help promote income generation opportunities and reduce pressure on natural resources. He was of the view that fishers should be provided basic amenities of life including safe drinking water at their doorstep. ‘WWF-Pakistan is creating environmental awareness among fisher communities and sensitize them on conservation of marine resources mainly wild species in Pakistani waters’, he added.

To promote sustainable fisheries and improve the data about marine mammals (whales and dolphins), sharks, marine birds and other important species, WWF-Pakistan has already initiated a programme that helps gather information about them. In order to reduce mortality and entanglement of these animals in fishing gears, WWF-Pakistan introduced subsurface gillnetting which is now fully adopted by the fishermen. This initiative is being acclaimed globally as it has led to conservation of many marine animals mainly turtles, dolphins and whale sharks. Through the capacity building component of project, large number of turtles, whales, sharks and other marines wildlife has been safely released by WWF-Pakistan trained fishers. This is not only improving the marine resources but promotes healthy oceans in the long run.

This workshop was organised as part of the project implemented by WWF-Pakistan in collaboration with Engro Foundation in the selected priority coastal areas of Karachi, Sindh. The project promotes improved fisheries management by reforming fisheries governance that helps combat illegal fishing and reduce pressure on marine ecosystem.