Karachi Fish Harbour Authority (KFHA) on Thursday began its long-awaited clean-up drive in collaboration with the fisheries stakeholders to streamline the harbour’s bogged-down navigational channel. “As many as 45 fishing boats which were moored at the fish harbour’s Ice Jetty were towed away from the channel,” officials of KFHA told Business Recorder, saying “the clean-up operation needs a high-tide sea to come about”.
They said the clean-up drive was on the move to drive off nearly 50 abandoned fishing boats which were anchored at the channel along with 10 sunken and some 400 operational vessels. The clean-up operation had to begin on December 24, last year to ease the congested channel of about 0.1 million square metres to ensure better navigation at the country’s largest fish harbour, but for some reasons the drive had delayed till today, they said.
Fishermen Co-operative Society (FCS), Marine Fisheries Department (MFD), Maritime Security Agency (MSA) and Sindh Trawlers Owners Association (STOFA) jointly took part to clean up the channel, officials said. A 10-member committee, which Director Operations, KFHA heads, is supervising the clean-up drive. The committee consists of members from all stakeholders to ensure the drive completion, they said. The fish harbour’s dredging has last been done some 20 years ago. Officials said the cleaning up of channel is now badly needed to make space for dredging of the channel draft for the smooth navigation of vessels.
Fishing boats continued to face navigational problems because of the low-draft at harbour. Karachi Port Trust has completed the survey of the harbour’s navigational channel to deepen the seabed by four metres in line with the global port dictum. The last dredging of the fish harbour was done through EU grant by an Italian firm M/s “Lodigiani SPA” in 1990, costing the then currency unit of “ECU” 12 million, according to the officials.
KFHA had served several notices on boat owners to sail their abandoned boats out of the harbour’s navigational channel with clear warnings that the authority will confiscate their boats. But all notices yielded no results, officials said. “Now the authority has decided to remove the abandoned boats from the fish harbour and in this regard the boat owners have been asked to follow the official instructions”, they said.
Fishermen continued to demand of the KFHA to ease the congestion at the harbour channel to improve space for better navigation. They said the congestion, which the abandoned boats have created, is badly blocking their vessels’ movements to reach the harbour’s auction hall.