For the last 17 years, illegal fishing has been a major issue in Balochistan coast. The absence of government action has contributed to the declining fish stocks and raised economic crisis for seven in every ten people living in Balochistan coast. This investigation into the fishing industry in Pakistan’s Balochistan region demonstrates how the local government’s inaction and corruption (‘ghost employees’ being one example) is allowing illegal fishing to continue. This data-driven article thorough research and investigation raised the issue of the fishermen who hardly get any coverage by mainstream media. The policy makers, fisheries department and the people living in Pakistan specially at the coast were the main audience for this project.
What makes this project innovative?
This project takes readers on a journey through an issue they were not aware of. This issue might have had little coverage before but there has never been an in-depth research or statistical overview by any newspaper or government organization about how the illegal fishing has affected the lives and livelihoods of local fishermen, continuously destroyed the environment, government's inaction even with raising fisheries budget and unchanged policies since 1970s has made life hard for 70% people in Balochistan coast. It is ground-breaking how this issue is presented for the first time with the help of simplified data from numerous sources and visuals that make it interactive and informative. And perhaps therefore it was featured in Global Editor's Network Den Newsletter in February 2018.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
This project observed a lot of traffic, it was viewed more than a thousand times. That says, it had an importance therefore people tended to go through the information provided. On the other hand, few new policies have been introduced by policy makers for sustainable fishing for instance; increasing the jurisdiction for local fishermen from 12 nautical miles to 24 nautical miles and banning the illegal vessels from within these 24 nautical miles. The government officials have also assured to take action against the ghost employees of fisheries department and the Chief Minister Balochistan ordered dismissal of Director, Deputy Director and some of the patrolling staff of Fisheries Department in Gwadar.
Source and methodology
My research began with the hypothesis related to the decrease of fish stocks, increase of budget, government inaction and increase in illegal fishing vessels. I developed several data driven questions for which I scraped data from government files, and I simplified all the data in excel. And then I developed several questions for some data driven interviews for those impacted by the issue, policy makers, experts in the field and those who could suggest solutions. And then I developed visuals for the data to make it more understandable. The sources/organization I got my data from were; Government of Balochistan's Budget Data, Fisheries Department Balochistan, Pakistan Marine Fishing Crafts Data and Environmental Protection Act Data.
I used Excel for most calculations and simplifications, and I used infogram and piktochart for the visuals.