Mangroves as Fish Habitat

Review of the Decline of Artisanal Fisheries along the Arabian Sea Coast, Pakistan (Extended Abstract)

Muhammad Naeem Khan


Pakistan’s coastline forming the northern boundary of the Arabian Sea is about 990 km long having 22,820 km2 of territorial waters, which include the 320-km-long Sindh coast bordering with India in the east and the 670-km-long Baluchistan’s Makran coast bordering with Iran in the west (Figure 1). While the deep-sea fisheries in Pakistan’s exclusive economic zone are managed by the federal government of Pakistan, the 12-nautical-miles coastal zone, reserved for the exclusive use of small-scale artisanal fishers, is the domain of the provincial governments of Sindh and Baluchistan. The paper describes the poor state of artisanal fisheries in Pakistan by giving a short overview of the factors causing the decline with a focus on the rapid deforestation of mangroves in the Indus River delta, belatedly declared a protected Ramsar site.

Most of the Pakistan coastline, except the Sindh coast of the Indus River delta, is arid with scanty clusters of fishing villages and landing sites at Thatha, Badin, Ormara, Pasni, Gwader and Jiwani sea ports. These poor fishing communities are engaged with small-scale artisanal fisheries as natural fish stocks in these coastal waters have drastically declined during the last two to three decades due to mangrove deforestation, overfishing, aquatic pollution, and other anthropogenic activities. As a consequence, almost 79% of these fishing communities now live below the poverty line (Mangroves for the Future 2010). The traditional fishing methods were generally considered environmentally friendly as they did not harm the ecosystem. However, the introduction of new mechanized boats and technologies equipped with nets made of nylon having finer mesh size are becoming harmful to the environment and sustainable fish stocks. The poverty-resource degradation nexus is further contributing to this decline in natural resources, thereby reinforcing the poverty of the artisanal fisher (Khan and Khan 2011).