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Pakistan: Exploitation by fishing industry contractors by Syed Mohammad Ali September 17,2021   |  Source: The Express Tribune

Human slavery is especially rampant across the fishing industry at large. A few years ago, Reuters broke a story of poor migrant workers working under brutal conditions on Thai fishing trawlers, which provide fish products to prominent global supermarket brands. The plight of fisherfolk in Pakistan is no less perturbing. For the fishermen on the Indus and its tributaries, debt bondage is an outcome of the modern economy, especially the contract system, which is encouraged by entities like the World Bank in the name of enhancing productivity and efficiency. Alizeh Kohari’s excellent reportage about fisherfolk communities residing on the Taunsa describes the plight of numerous Punjabi villages caught in the clutches of the contract system. These fisherfolk can seldom eat fish themselves, as all what they catch becomes the property of entrepreneurs who have bought exclusive rights to all the fish being caught by these poor fishing families. Local fishermen are left with no choice but to work for these middlemen, as they do not have the option of directly selling their catch in the market. The contract system on the Taunsa was instituted in 1961, whereby the rivers of the Taunsa were divided into distinct parcels and fishing rights were sold to the highest bidders. The winning


© 2021 The Express Tribune.

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Years in Support of Small Scale Fishworkers (1986 - 2018)