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Investigation proves Chinese fishing vessels not guilty

By Yasir Habib Khan   | Gwadar Pro Aug 29, 2021

GWADAR.Aug.29(Gwadar Pro) - After a thorough probe into alleged fishing by Chinese trawlers in Gwadar, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs has said categorically that Chinese vessels are not involved in fishing activities within the territorial waters of Balochistan.  

The probe committee report, coordinated by the Marine fisheries Department of Karachi, Balochistan Fisheries Department, Gwadar, local fishermen, and Balochistan Fisheries Department Sur Bandar, has concluded that the stocks present in the vessels are not from the territorial waters of Balochistan. Rather they are commonly found in high seas (Offshore waters), the report said.   

According to a report available to Gwadar Pro, the common fish species found in the local landing were not found in the stock present in vessels.  

The report further pointed out that the fishing vessels are not bottom trawlers. Bottom trawlers are those who use a method of fishing that involves dragging heavily weighted nets across the seafloor, to catch fish. It's a favored method by commercial fishing companies because it can catch large quantities of product in one go.

Committee officials said that generally the fishing gears found in vessels are used for the catch of pelagic fish stocks in the High Sea, away from the coastal area. Few specimens of inshore water species were also found like Kawakawa and large-scale triggerfish which may accidentally be transferred to high seas, they said. Anyhow, none of the common fish species abundant in territorial waters was found during the inspection such as Japanese Threat Fish, Ribbon Fish, Leather Skin, Sea Brea, Shrimps, Crab, Indian Mackerel, Cuttle Fish and Sardine. All these fishes are present during April to August in the territorial waters of Balochistan.  

As per investigation proceedings, 5 fishing trawlers (Four Fishing Vessels and One Carrier Vessel) docked on May 27, 2021, at Gwadar anchorage. The statement of said vessels that they were in Pakistani water due to the emergence of bad weather in the Indian Ocean (High Sea). All these vessels belonged to M /S Xiamen Haixintian Pelagic Fishery Co Ltd.  

Senator Muhammad Tahir Khan Bizenjo raised the issue of the presence of fishing trawlers in Gwadar during the Senate session on June 14, 2021. The Chairman Senate had sought a detailed report from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs.  

A meeting was held in Gwadar on July 3, 2021, wherein local fishermen community raised hue and cry regarding the presence of fishing trawlers in Gwadar. There was a general assumption that these trawlers had caught fish from the territorial's waters of Balochistan.  

Accordingly, the Chief Secretary, Balochistan had requested the Ministry of Maritime Affairs to constitute a team to visit five fishing trawlers and ascertain whether fish caught by these trawlers is from territorial waters or Exclusive Economic Zone of Pakistan and High Seas.  

Accordingly, the committee was formed including Muhammad Farhan Khan (Assistant Fisheries Development Commissioner, Maritime Affairs, Miftah Ul Haq, Marine Production Officer (Marine Fisheries Department Karachi), Liaqat Haroon, Biochemist (Marine Fisheries Department Karachi), Ahmed Nadeem, Deputy Director, (Balochistan Fisheries Department Gwadar), Muhamamd Iqbal ( Assistant Director, Balochistan Fisheries Department Gwadar), Zakir Bill (representative of Local Fishermen at Gwadar), Attaullah (Representative of local fishermen at Surbandar Gwadar), Hamid Badar Usmani (Ex-Assistant Biologist, Marine Fisheries Department Karachi), Mumtaz Ali Dehri ( Marine Fisheries Department Karachi).  

Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi said that bad weather forced the trawlers to come near the Gwadar port area, and no permission has been granted by the concerned authorities for fishing in the area.

It is recalled that Chinese vessels had to enter coastal area in Gwadar after being susceptible to get battered by sea hurricanes and consequently as a last resort, they had to take refuge in Gwadar Port.   

Pakistan mainstream political parties have also dismissed the outrageous propaganda. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslims League (PML-N), Jammat-e-Islami (JI), Jammiat Ulema Islam (JUI), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and others have the unanimity that the issue is a matter of safety and rescue and the rest of hullabaloo is based on premeditated mayhem.  

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