By Arbaz Ahmed Janjhi
Gharo, Dec, 1, 2023: On World Fisheries Day, WWF-Pakistan orchestrated a gathering of experts, community leaders, and organizations at SZABIST ZABTech Gharo to tackle pressing challenges in the fisheries sector. Distinguished speakers delivered key presentations, shedding light on the urgency to combat illegal fishing practices, conserve marine resources, and stress the need for collaborative action.
A highlight of the event was a virtual presentation by Caterina Quadrio, Christiana Eghenter, and Lucia Ruiz from the WWF Network, providing an international perspective on ‘Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures’ (OECM).
Jawad Umer Khan, Manager of Marine at WWF-Pakistan, underscored the importance of fisheries and small-scale aquaculture. He outlined WWF-P’s efforts in empowering communities with sustainable alternatives, livelihood generation skills, and disaster risk reduction initiatives. Khan stressed the need for securing resources for future generations.
Aquaculturist Syed Daim Shah advocated for a shift to aquaculture in the fisheries sector, emphasizing the importance of moving away from oceans to allow for replenishment. He praised WWF’s persistent efforts in conservation and their contribution to environmental preservation and natural resource conservation.
Ahmed Khan Soomro, District Manager SRSO, urged communities to take ownership of resource conservation, stating that guidance from NGOs and developmental institutions is just the initial step in creating a substantial impact. He acknowledged vulnerable communities relying on natural resources and expressed support for the efforts of experts.
Khuda Bux Behrani, Director Social Welfare Department, recognized WWF-Pakistan’s role in linking the Indus Delta to the international network. He stressed the importance of adopting upgraded fishing technologies adhering to international standards and discouraged illegal fishing methods.
Mukhtiyar Mahar, Director University of Sindh Thatta Campus, praised WWF-Pakistan for organizing an informative event, emphasizing the role of academia in advancing aquaculture. He stressed the need for addressing challenges like population growth and industrialization affecting fish growth.
Aslam Ansari, Director of Sindh Fisheries SAFARI, highlighted the collective responsibility needed for fisheries protection. With 80% of resources depleted, he emphasized collaborative efforts to safeguard remaining resources for a sustainable future.
Chief guest Arif Khokhar, Conservator of Sindh Forest Mangrove Circle, emphasized the significance of mangroves in protecting coastal areas and contributing to the fishing sector. He called for collaboration to conserve mangroves, citing their vital role as a protective barrier and nursery for fisheries. Khokhar underscored the importance of coordinated efforts to address environmental challenges and urged adherence to sustainable fishing practices.
The event concluded with a captivating theatre performance by the Azad Group, providing a creative and engaging conclusion to the commemoration.