Boat owners and fishermen on Tuesday staged a protest demonstration over non-issuance of crew cards to illegal Bengali immigrants at Karachi fish harbor. A large number of boat owners and fishermen participated in the protest, urging the authorities concerned to issue NARA cards to Bengalis so that the Karachi Fish Harbor Authority could renew their crew cards for deep-sea fishing.
"Around 30 per cent boats have been moored due to the shortage of crew," Sindh Trawlers Owners and Fishermen Association (Stofa) president Habibullah Khan Niazi told Business Recorder, saying that the fishing activities would scale down in coming days if the government did not start issuing NARA cards to Bengalis. He claimed that the protest, which was a sudden move of the Stofa, attracted around 2,000 fisheries' labourers to show solidarity with Bengalis and asked the government to revisit its policy on denying cards to the illegal immigrants merely on security grounds. He said that the local communities were ready to guarantee all sorts of verifications of Bengalis to any of the government authorities. He feared that non-issuance of NARA cards to Bengalis would worsen the situation for the fisheries sector as a large number of labourers belonging to the same community are working in different departments ie from crewing boats to the shrimp peeling industry and processing plants. "The entire fisheries sector will suffer if Bengalis were not issued NARA cards," he opined.