Published On: Tue, Nov 3rd, 2015

Karachi’s fishermen in debt trap

Amir Chouhan

KARACHI: Few years back when Juman Jatt went to distant waters to fish, he always returned with ample catch to feed his family for months. But now, it’s just the opposite.

Juman is a dweller of Rehri Goth, 25kms off Karachi city.

Talking to The Nature News, he says in the times bygone, he used to catch fish near the beach but because of increasing water tide, marine life has moved into deepwater.

“We have to go to distant waters and have to stay there for long,” he says. “This also increases our costs.”

Juman says he wants to switch his profession but having nine children and being the sole bread winner, he can’t. He has borrowed money from friends and relatives instead.

Sea intrusion, persistence of hyper saline conditions and ground water contamination result in loss of productive areas

Sea intrusion, persistence of hyper saline conditions and ground water contamination result in loss of productive areas

“There are hardly any fishermen who are not indebted.”

He has to pay a certain amount as loan instalment every month.

Hakeem Jatt of Jattan Jo Goth tells TNN he has been associated with fishing for the last 25 years. He has four children, and for them he dreams well, which unfortunately are not coming true.

Hakeem spends five days in the sea and sometimes longer but still does not get sufficient catch.

30-year-old Abban has a similar tale. His house also got submerged due to the rising sea.

Umair Shahid, North Indian Ocean Coordinator, WWF-Pakistan says sea level plays an important role in determining fish catch.

“Sea intrusion, persistence of hyper saline conditions and ground water contamination result in loss of productive areas,” he says. “Sea intrusion has direct effects on mangrove planted areas, as they are also prone to be degraded. Mangrove ecosystem provides a nursery for commercial fish species, and as a result the fish catch declines.”

Few years back when Juman Jatt went to distant waters to fish, he always returned with ample catch to feed his family for months. But now, it’s just the opposite

Few years back when Juman Jatt went to distant waters to fish, he always returned with ample catch to feed his family for months. But now, it’s just the opposite

Fisher communities in Pakistan’s coastal communities are particularly vulnerable in this regard,” he adds. “Not only is their livelihood but security is also at risk due to sea level increase.”

Mohammad Ali Shah, Chairperson of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) says fishermen community had the worse time in 2015.
“Due to unregulated commercial fishing along the 129km-long Karachi coastline, fishermen are not getting enough catch,” he says. “Small fish are being caught near the beach through commercial trawlers, which are then used to make chick feed. If there is control over the small fish catch, fishermen would be better off.”

Fish are present in the sea under a specific temperature and as soon as the temperature rises they change the place, adds Shah. “Presently, the entire world is facing climate change effect but Pakistan is most affected.”

According to the PFF chairman, Pakistan has faced a 70 per cent decline in fish catch over the last 10 years.


This story has been published in arrangement with NCEJ as part of its training in Karachi on “Reporting impacts of climate change on communities.”

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