A project titled ‘Sustainable Fisheries Entrepreneurship: A Citizen-Based Approach to Saving Pakistan’s Unique Marine Environment.’ was being implemented by WWF- Pakistan since June 2016. This project was sponsored by Engro Foundation for a period of two years. The project aimed to support and promote improved fisheries management in three coastal union councils of Karachi, Pakistan i.e. Ibrahim Hyderi, Rehri Goth and Kaka Pir communities in Karachi. This was to be achieved through the reform of governance and management of the fisheries sector to combat illegal fishing and reduce pressure on marine ecosystems through increased awareness.
The project inter alia envisaged community mobilization and organization through the establishment of fisher groups within the target areas. Fisher folk groups were formed under male and female categories in order to compartmentalize experiences, as well as to allow attention to be dedicated to specific social problems each gender may face. These fisher groups were entrusted to ensure community participation in the effective management of marine resources and fisheries and to bring improvements in their livelihoods. The groups were to undergo a number of extensive training sessions to develop their capacity for positive management.
It is well known that during fishing operations, fishermen target specific species for capture. Unfortunately, other animals become hooked or trapped when attracted to the bait or target catch, or are simply unable to avoid capture or entanglement in the fishing gear. Such bycatch is a widespread problem in all fisheries and in all seas, sparing no group of animals. Often the scale of mortality is so high that it threatens the very survival of species and their environments. Every year, at least 7.3 million tonnes of marine life is caught incidentally, as bycatch. Some of the species which are considered protected, threatened and endangered can survive entanglement in the fishing nets if released as soon as they are brought on the fishing vessels. However, this requires training, as during the release process these animals may get endangered.
Bycatch is also a serious issue in the fisheries based in three Union Councils i.e. Ibrahim Hayderi, Rehri and Mauripur. Considering the seriousness of the bycatch issues, it was envisaged to train the observers that are deputed on the fishing vessels for the safe release of protected, threatened and endangered species that get entangled in the fishing gears.