Fishermen trained for using Turtle Exclusion Device – a major step major towards Conservation of Marine Turtles in Pakistan

25 November 2010 | News story

Karachi, November 25, 2010 IUCN Pakistan under its Balochistan Partnerships for Sustainable Development Programme organized a one-day training for fishermen for using Turtle Exclusion Device (TED). The training was conducted by Dr. Nicloas Pilcher at Marine Fisheries Department, Government of Pakistan where around 40 fishermen including representatives of the other organizations participated in the training.

Dr. Pilcher mentioned that this device was invented by a fisherman around 30 years ago, but still its usage has not become common. The primary purpose of TED is reducing the mortality of sea turtles in fishing nets, while safeguarding the livelihoods of the local fishermen.

The fishermen would benefit from installation of TED in the trawl net due to higher catch values due to reduction of large bycatch which damage the shrimp, shorten sorting times, lower fuel costs due to reduced net drag as the cod end would fill more slowly, and higher catches of shrimps, stated Dr. Pilcher.

He said that setting up hatcheries for turtle is a positive step, but not the best solution. He suggested that the natural conservation of the turtles’ eggs is the best option, which can be implemented with awareness of the masses.

Dr. Moazzam, Director General Marine Fisheries Department, Government of Pakistan mentioned that the United States used to be our largest buyer for shrimps, but now China and UAE have taken over. Our main commodity, small shrimp is still being exported to the United States. He mentioned that due to restrictions by the US legislation the implementation of Pakistan’s TED Programme is monitored regularly.  There are 18 countries in the world that use TED. In the past any fishing boats with 5 persons onboard did not require TED, but now it is mandatory for all the fishing boats. He further stated that Government of Pakistan has taken decision to emphatically implement the TED.

TED is mandatory in the World Trade Organisation’s environmental clauses. Pakistan is also a signatory of FAO’s Code of Conduct for responsible fishing. The federal and provincial governments have assigned the task to the Maritime Security Agency for ensuring compliance of TED on all the fishing boats in the sea.

He said that despite our conservation efforts in Pakistan one of the sea turtle species i.e. Olive Ridley has completely disappeared from shores of Karachi, which is a great natural tragedy. He said that monitoring cannot be enforced with laws alone. He was of the view that all the fishermen community needs to show responsible attitude towards conservation of the marine life.

Mr. Zabardast Khan Bangash, Manager IUCN Balcohistan Programme Office said that IUCN’s Balochistan Partnerships for Sustainable Development Programme is striving to extend the circle of partners for conservation of marine biodiversity.

Certificates awarding ceremony marked the end of the four days Turtle Conservation related activities including a 2-Day Consultative Workshop, Training of Fishermen about TED, Trials of TED by local fishermen. As gesture of goodwill Dr. Pilcher donated the TED devise to a representative of the fishermen community.