The lack of marine research to forecast shift in weather patterns has harmed local fishermen who pay dearly for voyages in search of better catch on the seas as against what they catch. “We [fishermen] have no early forecasts from the government to be aware of the seasonal changes in the oceanic patterns,” fishermen told Business Recorder on Wednesday.
A local fisherman Mehmoodul said that the operational cost of every boat has grown phenomenally for two reasons: the government has increased petroleum prices and because of the seasonal decline in the seafood caught. But, he was unaware of the cause behind the decline, which according to him, has continued for the last two months. “It is part of nature to determine the allocation of fish and shrimps for fisherman on the sea,” he opined.
He pointed out that the slump has however caused the fishermen and boat owners a huge financial loss during the period. He said that there was no government support to the seafarers whose annual contributions to the national exchange stood at over $300 million.
“There is no research on marine ecological changes to indicate to fishermen what sites on the sea they should travel for a better catch,” he lamented, saying that fishermen sail from one point to other and get fatigued in search of seafood.
Mehmoodul blamed the dearth of marine research, as the weather pattern was gradually changing but Pakistani fishermen still followed the 20 years old mode of fishing. As a result they suffered financially. “Fishermen are battling the sluggishness of the seasonal fish catch after suffering a slump in shrimp landing this year,” he said, adding that only targeted fishing could protect them from financial decline.
He said that targeted fishing could only be possible if the government has the research to indicate to the voyagers where to spread the traps for the specific specie, and where its schools are flourishing. “We don’t know where the specific fish specie would be, to net it,” he said. “Research will enable us to find the needed specie, which has a financial value in the market and would save our time and cut operational costs,” said director fishermen co-operative society, Asif Bhatti.He was emphatic on the need for targeted fishing of species instead of bulk catch of unneeded breeds to protect marine life and the financial costs of fishermen. He said that rising costs have hit the local seafarers badly in its wake as catch landing is declining.
A number of species including surmai and dother fish would surface there during summer in the past but now these varieties are appearing in autumn, he pointed out, saying that scientific research should have indicated such a change earlier to the fishermen. “If the fishermen knew that the fish would change its location on the seas then they would never have to struggle for them before the exact time, which has increased operational costs for them,” he said.
He said that the landing of export-oriented squid fish was increasing but buyers were not interested in its purchase for unknown reasons. He said that squids and shrimps were one of the key species which help fishermen earn more. Bhatti urged the government to carry out scientific marine research to predict future changes in the weather on the seas so that fishermen could make their plans in a better way to scale down their operational costs.