Fishermen seek government subsidy to offset souring costs
September 02, 2012: Nearly 30 percent of fishing activities on Saturday ceased as hundreds of boats remained anchored because of a fresh fuel price surge, raising fears of a further reduction in the quantity of seafood caught from the country’s largest fisheries. Talking to Business Recorder, seafarers pointed out that the latest rise in fuel prices is likely to cripple fishing activities.
They said that the government should provide the fishermen support in the form of a sizeable subsidy for the country’s export-oriented fisheries sector to offset the effects of soaring costs. “The cost of fishing activities is on the rise with the fresh increase in diesel prices,” President Native Islanders Fishermen Association (NIFA), Asif Bhatti told Business Recorder.
He advocated the fishermen’s long-standing demand for financial assistance amid soaring inflation in the country, saying that the return on the seafood caught is too low to provide the seafarers with ample earnings. Fishing activities are already going through a difficult phase because of the changing weather patterns in Pakistan, as strong winds continue to hamper smooth sailing on the sea.
“It is still difficult for fishermen to cope with the inflation against low returns,” he said. He feared that fishing activities may further fall in the coming days because of the fuel hike. He said a small boat consumes at least 250 litre of diesel a day. Similarly, a medium sized one needs 350 litre of fuel to continue full-scale operations.
He said that the long-trip big vessels, which can stay afloat on the sea for about 25 days, require at least 500 litres of diesel a day to keep its high-powered engine running. “After such huge costs incurred on operations on the sea, the prospects for an improved catch still remain unlikely,” he commented.
Bhatti said that the country could only expand its fisheries sector and seafood exports if it provides fishermen with a visible subsidy in terms of financial support so that they could become capable of defeating the spiralling costs and inflation. The new notified rates for diesel are Rs 112.13 a litre and Rs 98.84 a litre.