Safety at Sea for Pakistan

Since 1980, International Maritime Organisation (IMO), a specialized agency of UN, is celebrating World Maritime Day each year in the last week of September. IMO selected 27th September as World Maritime Day for 2012. On this day, the World celebrates the contribution of maritime industry to the well-being of human race. The day focuses on maritime industry, shipping safety, maritime security, marine environment, and on the work of IMO. This year in remembrance of Titanic, WMD focuses on safety of life at sea.

Pakistan has a large fishing community. We have nearly 15 thousand fishing boats, many of which are not registered. They do not even carry the bare minimum lifesaving equipment. They do not always possess radio or other communication means to contact shore authorities in case of an emergency. Like many other occupations in Pakistan our fishermen continue to earn their living in hazardous conditions. In the aftermath of this accident, Karachi Fish Harbour Authority (KFHA) has announced that it would study measures to ensure fishing boats are not over-crowded and adhere to minimum safety requirements. The federal and provincial authorities must assist KFHA in achieving this laudable aim.

Pakistan also faces spectre of an unimaginable maritime disaster when dhows carry illegal immigrant back to Pakistan from Oman. Several times in a year, the authorities in Oman pack more than 500 deportees like sardines in a small dhow and send them back to Pakistan. What to talk of lifesaving equipment, even the living conditions on board these boats are appalling. The last such instance occurred in August this year. If such an overcrowded boat met an accident at sea, the loss of life will be of horrendous proportions.

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Article written by Asaf Humayun, courtesy of Pakistan Observer.

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