Community-based conservation is key to improving marine resources: Experts

Posted on 31 December 2021

Karachi, 31 December: ‘The fisher communities along Sindh coast are facing serious issues of poverty, lack of basic amenities of life and livelihoods. Capacity building and provision of alternative livelihood options is essential for improving their lives and promote better management of coastal resources in Pakistan’. This was stated by speakers during the conclusion workshop of the project ‘sustainable fishing entrepreneurship – a citizen based approach to saving Pakistan’s unique marine environment – Phase II’ at a local hotel in Karachi. The project was implemented by WWF-Pakistan with support of Engro Foundation in Ibrahim Hyderi and Rehri Goth, Karachi. The main purpose of the project was to provide assets related to fishing and build capacity of fisher folk to decrease post-harvest losses, reduce by-catch and overfishing in marine waters of Pakistan. 
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Tahir Rasheed, Regional Head, WWF-Pakistan said that the people dwelling in coastal areas of Pakistan are devoid of basic amenities of life and many of the families are living under abject poverty. Livelihood and income generation resources of the people have been destroyed due to multiple factors. He said that they provided fishing tools to deserving fishers for the improvement of their livelihood and decreased post-harvest losses. The project enabled fishermen to contribute in the safe release of important marine fauna. ‘For plantation and rehabilitation of forests, 20,000 hectares of mangrove plantations are underway with the support of Engro Foundation’, he added. 
Rizwana Halepoto, Head Human Resources at Engro Vopak Terminal congratulated the team for successful execution of the project and remarked that it contributed towards protection of marine life and helped bring positive change in the living standards of fisherfolks. She also stated that Engro has been working closely with different stakeholders to support nature conservation in Pakistan and improve the lives of deserving and marginalized communities. ‘To continue these efforts for the betterment of the people and marine resources, Engro has pledged to support the third phase of this project, she added.  
Fawad Soomro, Country Head, Engro Foundation said that an uncontrolled increase in the size of fishing fleets has resulted in overfishing in the marine waters of Pakistan. It is also ironic that post-harvest losses are extremely high because of poor handling and storage onboard fishing vessels as well as at landing centers and during transportation. He said that the project contributed towards conservation of ecologically important marine animals such as green turtles, dolphins, whales and whale sharks. He also shared that the project developed partnerships and built the capacity of the fisher communities which are key to improve coastal resources and mitigate poverty of the underprivileged communities.   
Ali Muhammad Mastoi, Director General, Coastal Fisheries Sindh, appreciated the project interventions and said that similar work was being replicated at the coast of Thatta and Badin. He was of the view that to empower local fishers and improve their livelihood, efforts should be taken to formalize jetties which can further help in speeding landing and reduction of post-harvest losses at the Sindh coast. 
Altaf Sheikh, Manager Conservation Sindh, WWF-Pakistan, gave an overview of the project and shared key achievements. He said that the coastal communities of Karachi faced different challenges including degradation of coastal resources, loss of livelihoods, poverty and lack of freshwater. He said that to improve the livelihood of people and reduce pressure on fisheries resources, the project contributed towards better management of fisheries resources. For effective decision making and sustainability of the project interventions, the project established male and female fisherfolk groups which worked towards community mobilization, networking and awareness on conservation of coastal resources. 
Local fishers from Ibrahim Hyderi and Rehri Goth participated in the session to share their voices on challenges to coastal communities. They also shared their experiences on awareness, capacity building and adaptation of alternative livelihood options. The event was concluded with distribution of mobile phone with data application to ten fishers and souvenirs to the guests.
Dr. Tahir Rasheed, Regional Head, Sindh and Balochistan, WWF-Pakistan speaking during the event.
© WWF-Pakistan