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A small wonder
By Ali Saeed
CHURNA is a tiny island surrounded by clear blue waters. It is beautiful to look at. To some people, it’s great for sport fishing action in Pakistan. It has many choices for those who love the sea and the wonders associated with it. Be it scuba diving or sailing, fishing or snorkeling, it has all that matters.
The island of Churna is also frequently visited by anglers for fishing. It is one of the biggest and most active fishing spots in the country. There is enough sea life which attracts anglers for trolling and casting from all over Pakistan. But something that most people don’t know is the fact that the Churna island was once considered the “house of fish” by commercial fishermen since ages, and during the last few years, fish catch from the place dropped to a minimal level, disappointing anglers and causing disaster for the only coral reef found in Pakistan.
The wire nets and other banned fishing nets originally introduced by migrant Bangladeshi fishermen are now used widely by local fishing trawlers and is the main reason for the depleted marine life. Just one decade back, Churna was known to have the largest number of fish species found anywhere in coastal waters of Sindh and Balochistan. But now several species have become extinct or are rarely seen. Moreover, the uptake of wire nets by local fishermen has been on the rise.
Many people believe that local authorities that deal with fisheries should be held responsible for the devastation of the resources around the island. The quantity of fish that used to be found in our mangroves is no more there. The moment the Churna island failed to produce the goods, the authorities turned their eyes away from it. On the other hand, it must be said that unless the anglers start “ethical fishing practice”, things will not imrprove.
Therefore to improve the situation, first of all we need to follow the rules mentioned at www.pgfa.org published by The Pakistan Game Fish Association and should practice catch and release after reaching our bag limit. It’s an effective and easy fish conservation process. Whatever species of fish you catch that goes beyond your bag limit should be released. It is a great way of helping the cause.
We all know it very well that its not fish or food that we are after. We are sport fishermen and we spend thousands of rupees just to have fun out there catching those huge beasts such as the marlins, or even the small ones.
In this regard, the government and the NGOs need to work towards making the Churna island a first “protected marinepark” of Pakistan, where only anglers should be allowed to fish complying with relevant rules. They need to start their efforts to ban external trawlers and illegal fishing nets such as Bhullo, Gujjo and Katra that catch every single fish that comes their way, from juvenile to full-grown.
People living in the Mubarak Village are not responsible for this rot at all. They only use gill nets and mainly depend on the money earned as rent through boats that take recreational fishermen for fishing.
Life is too short to play silly games. Those who call the shots and live in their cozy homes taking big decisions must wake up to the reality that places like the Churna island need to be taken care of, because they immensely contribute to our common heritage. The Churna island is not only a beautiful place to visit, but is a source of earning for many people. It’s time the authorities concerned took notice of the issue and did something constructive to salvage the situation.