Modern technology must for tuna fisheries experts

Modern technology must for tuna  fisheries experts

KARACHI: Experts have said that the most of the developing countries lack the capacity to address issue of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing mainly due to unavailability of research data, financial constraints and lack of access to modern technology.

Addressing the first day of training workshop titled 'improving transparency and traceability in Tuna Fisheries in North Indian Ocean', organized by World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan) at a local hotel in Karachi on Wednesday, they call for modern technology to ensure effective management of tuna fisheries.

The workshop was conducted under a project, Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) which is financially supported by Global Environmental Fund (GEF), United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Seafood Sustainability Foundation and Common Oceans. The project primarily focuses on improving the health and sustainability of tuna fisheries worldwide by reducing illegal catch and supporting marine ecosystems and species.

Speaking on the occasion, Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General WWF-Pakistan shared that marine resources are confronting major threats of pollution, destructive fishing methods and illegal, unreported and unsustainable (IUU) fishing among others. In order to conserve the rich marine biodiversity, WWF-Pakistan has initiated a number of projects under Marine Programme which include study of tuna fisheries, cetacean, turtles and mangroves forests.

James Geehan, Fisheries Statistician from Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) Secretariat said that data reports vary considerably according to species. In case of Yellowfin tuna, one of the most well-reported species, around 50 per cent of catch and size data are missing. He also said that catch data also highly conflicting in recent years being reported by WWF-Pakistan and government department.

Hawwa Raufath Nazir, Project Officer Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture Maldives shared that Maldives Quality Seafood (MQS) which sources and supplies handline yellowfin tuna internationally, is the first Fair Trade Certified producer of seafood in the country. After being awarded Fair Trade certification earlier this year, Horizon Fisheries Maldives sells the first ever seafood product globally, canned skipjack tuna, that carries both the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Fair Trade Certified labels.

Alfred Schumm, Director, WWF-International shared that IUU fishing is 20 per cent of the total global fish stocks. In order to tackle this issue, governments need to ensure regular monitoring, surveillance and sustainable management of fisheries. He emphasized that transparency and traceability can be possible through placement of Automatic Identification System (AIS); VMS, and Global Positioning System (GPS). 'This would not only improve fisheries management but would support in traceability of other products from the oceans', he added.

Muhammad Wasim, DG Marine Fisheries Department Pakistan informed that according to 2016, there are 19,148 fishing boats operating in Pakistani waters and the annual fish production is 588,581 m. tons. He pointed out that main IUU fishing problem exists on eastern border caused by Indian fishing boats and every year about 100 of their boats are apprehended by Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA).

Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Programmes, WWF-Pakistan said that Observer Programme of WWF-Pakistan initiated in 2012, has trained more than 75 observers who have rescued and safely released thousands of marine turtles, whales, dolphins, sharks and other endangered marine species.

Umair Shahid, Coordinator North Indian Ocean WWF-Pakistan shared that all life on Earth depends on a healthy ocean. Billions of us rely on it for food, livelihoods and many other services.

Reza Shahifar, General Director for Conservation and Rehabilitation of Marine Resources, Iran Fisheries Organization; Lioba Struck, Project Manager at NAVAMA UK; Asad Rafi Chandna DG Ministry of Port and Shipping; Dr. Ejaz Ahmed, former Senior Director WWF-Pakistan and Abdul Rahim, Assistant Director Environment Gwadar Development Authority also spoke on the occasion.