DURATION   March 2015 to July 2016
LOCATION   Karachi
FUNDING AGENCY   The Asia Foundation
BACKGROUND OF THE PROJECT / PROJECT AREA / NEEDS AND JUSTIFICATION The Human Right to Livelihood and Land is the human right of all women, men, youth and children to a dignified and productive livelihood which enables them to live in peace, security, justice and dignity. All people have the fundamental human right to fulfilling, dignified work and livelihood, including equal access to land and productive resources, and to basic labor protections.

The Human Right to Livelihood and Land includes the following universal, indivisible, interconnected and interdependent human rights:

  • The human right to livelihood and work that is freely chosen and that contributes to an adequate standard of living.
  • The human right to basic labor protections; freedom of association; freedom from forced labor; adequate, safe working conditions; equal pay for equal work.
  • The human right to freedom from discrimination based on gender, race, ethnic identity, or any other status.
  • The human right to full equality before the law, including equality in rights to own land or to inherit.
  • The human right to equal access to productive resources, including land, credit, and technology.
  • The human right to equal access to education and training.
  • The human right of indigenous peoples to maintain their own ways of life, including the right to use lands to which they have traditionally had access for subsistence.
  • The human right of indigenous peoples to maintain their distinctive spiritual and material relationship with the lands, to own land individually and in community with others, and to transfer land rights according to their own customs.
  • The human right of indigenous peoples to use, manage and safeguard the natural resources pertaining to their lands.
  • The human right to security of tenure and freedom from forced eviction.
  • The human right of all people and peoples to full and effective participation in shaping decisions and policies, including policies of development and agrarian reform, concerning themselves and their community, at the local, national and international levels.
The above list is not just a reproduction of rights; it is in fact a reminder for all the inhabitants of Sindh and specially for the Government to look into the matter for everyone but in proposed case for the fishermen communities living at coastal as well as inland waters for decades and have not yet been granted with adequate level of provisions; even hardly as humans. These rights are enshrined in the various national and international laws and instruments such as  Article 38-D of constitution of Pakistan, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.1 and Article 11.2, General Comment No. 12 of The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Rome declaration on world food security, Right to Food Guidelines,  Voluntary Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Lands, Fisheries and Forests in Context of National Food Security and Right to Food Guidelines.

The existing law of 1980 of fisheries ordinance that govern the fisheries in Sindh has various loopholes. This law also needs to be harmonized with FAO Voluntary Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries which Pakistan has adopted. Separate Fisheries policy is also need of hour. Therefore, there is need to review this law and other regulations and recommend set of recommendations as those could support Fisherfolk in very effective way.

Sindh province is lucky in having both the coastal belt and inland waters available for fishing. Traditional fishers’ communities in Pakistan had been enjoying satisfied lives with the rich natural resource from inland water and coastal area since long time.

However, recent ecological changes in the area, due to mega projects in the name of development along the Indus delta and Arabian coastal area have put desperate negative impact on natural livelihood resources and those communities accordingly.  With the entry of non-fishers into country’s fisheries, including those with the pure motive of moneymaking, the traditional sustainable fishing methods were replaced with many unsustainable methods lead to degradation of fishery resources.  Further, the corruption and flawed fishery policies of the government failed to protect the fisher folk communities but put them in vulnerable conditions. Additionally; it will not be unjust to mention that the development work for the benefit of coastal communities had hardly been a serious agenda of the ruling authorities, resulting in poor infrastructure development in the area.  Exploitation and Violation of rights of just and sustainable livelihood of fisher folk communities are prevailing and the fisher folk communities are facing a great risk of losing their sustainable livelihood.

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) came into being in 1998 only to address the issues of fishermen communities who were deprived of their rights. Since its inception it has worked for the betterment of these communities along with their own efforts. PFF has been working across the province of Sindh and has a vast experience about the issues concerning to fisher folks. PFF proposes to focus Karachi, Thatta, Badin, Jamshoro, Sanghar, Kashmore and district Qambar. These districts have either sharing boundary of coast or have great reserves of inland waters in the form of lakes and water reservoirs where fishing communities exist and face typical issues that are yet to be resolved.

Amongst many, PFF intends to focus and highlight two major issues of these communities which are related to their deteriorating socio-economic conditions.

The first is the direct violation of this indigenous community’s right to having an equal chance of fishing. This is violated by denial of access by influential to fishermen to fish in the fishing bodies.

This is done despite the fact that contract system on fishing bodies is abolished in Sindh by government of Sindh[1]. The contract system was the part of ‘Sindh Fisheries Ordinance 1980’ under section 7 which was promulgated in Martial Law regime. Later the Government framed Sindh fisheries Rules 1983 which provided it legal cover. This system was exploitative, anti-people and against the spirit of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan which ensures the Fundamental Rights.

The PFF launched movement for its abolition and after prolonged and consistent struggle succeeded in getting it abolished by the Government of Sindh in 2007. Ending of contract system benefited about one million fishermen directly and indirectly.

Now despite abolition of contract system, influential are reluctant to free the water bodies and thereby depriving fishermen from right to food and standard living

Second problem is The existing law of 1980 of fisheries ordinance that govern the fisheries in Sindh has various loopholes. This law also needs to be harmonized with FAO Voluntary Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries which Pakistan has adopted. Separate Fisheries policy is also need of hour. Therefore, there is need to review this law and other regulations and recommend set of recommendations as those could support Fisherfolk in very effective way.

The importance of fisheries sector in Pakistan can be realized by knowing that it makes a significant contribution to the national economy, contributing approximately one percent to GDP and providing jobs to about one percent of the country’s labor force. If the policies become little more favorable for these fishing communities, the sector has the capacity to yield more and better.

An example of this is the Government’s interest in late ‘90s when it took interest in the development of the fisheries sector of Pakistan. Emphasis was given to strengthening the fisheries infrastructure, enhancement of fish production, increase in export earnings as well as domestic consumption of fish, diversification of fishing effort, exploitation of untapped resources and, above all, improving the socio-economic condition of the fishing communities. Because of those efforts, fish production had increased to a level of 615 904 tones in 1998, with 433 098 tones from marine and 182 806 tones from inland bodies.

This is unfortunate and unlucky that the fishing sector and the problems of these communities are hardly discussed on media. There are no reports and poor documentation of media and civil society in general for the issues concerning fishing communities. Therefore; not many people know about the troubles these communities face. The issues are just not with the media, civil society or general public but the problem is also within these communities. PFF has identified some core concerns related to above shared violations of rights of these communities as humans that may be addressed with higher intensity and priority:

-Lack of awareness of their basic economic, social and cultural rights enshrined in constitution of Pakistan and guaranteed by international instruments related with fisheries and Fisherfolk rights

-Lack of small scale fisheries laws and policies
  GOALS Enabled fishing community to raise the voice for its socioeconomic and cultural rights
  • To review existing legislations and regulations related with fisher folk and recommend ways for improved structural changes.
  • To strengthen and promote lobbying, networking and coordinating with civil society, media and other relevant stakeholders for the joint action on implementation of recommendations in existing legislations and regulations.
  • Existing law and other regulations are reviewed and a set of recommendations are recommended as those could support fisher folk in very effective way.
  • Community consultation process is carried out to seek the feedback of the targeted beneficiaries to identify the loopholes in existing laws and recommend ways for improvement.
  • Relevant Govt officials at district level and civil society, media is mobilized and sensitized on key human rights related to fisher folk communities.
  • Media, civil society, NGOs participate in joint actions organized by PFF on issues related to fisher folk communities.
  • Research Study on exiting fishing laws.
  • Interactive theatres on key issues identified by the community during the consultation meetings.
  • IEC material on key issues identified during the consultation meetings
  • Lobbying Meetings.
  • Two interactive dialogues at provincial and four at district level for implementations of recommendations.
  • Community Petition to Chief Minister.
  • Round Table Conference and Follow Up.
DETAILS BENEFICIARIES COVERED Direct Beneficiaries: This project shall be direct implemented in 20 villages/communities 5 in each. Both urban and rural population shall be focused. 20 village level organization/units consisting on group of 25 (10 female and 15 male) shall be organized & mobilized. While direct beneficiaries will be these 20 villages/communities with approximately population of 1000 individuals. Indirect Beneficiaries:
  • Fishing community members of Karachi, Thatta, Jamshoro, Sanghar.
  • Representatives of media.
  • Officials of Livestock and Agriculture, Fisheries, Forest, Revenue, Education and Health department.