ISLAMABAD (APP) - The performance of the Fishermen Cooperative Society (FCS) came under severe criticism in a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Food, Agriculture & Livestock here Thursday, which said that the society failed miserably to protect the interests of the average fisherman especially with regard to his training, welfare, up-gradation of fishing boats and provision of modern storage and marketing facilities. The Committee, which met under the Chairmanship of Senator Muhammad Amjad Abbas expressed the view that the FCS Board of Directors, currently under suspension, was behaving more like a cartel rather than a welfare body for fishermen, the majority of whom are not the owners of fishing boats. The Committee members observed that fishing industry is on the verge of collapse due to adhocism and lack of a long-term and consistent policy. The condition of an average fisherman, it said, is not improving despite many efforts made in the past and he lacks proper training and equipment needed for better catch and preservation. It recommended urgent measures for salvaging the industry and ensuring survival of hundreds of families dependent on it. The fishing industry has great potential, which must be tapped, it added. The Committee especially expressed its concern over the fact that full potential of the precious tuna fish (was not being utilized. Tuna alone, it was observed, has the potential to earn millions in foreign exchange provided it is stored at -40 degree centigrade, which is a pre-condition for selling it to countries like Japan, Korea etc, but the local fleet awfully lacks these facilities. The Committee strongly urged the Sindh Govt particularly the Chief Minister to intervene urgently for bringing about improvements and reforms. It also expressed its surprise over the fact that FCS was paying only Rs. 100,000/- to the Government as rent for the main auction hall. This amount is just peanut' and the Govt could get much more in this head. It recommended that the lease may be cancelled. The Chairman of the Committee and members questioned 'do we really need an organization like FCS and why should not we allow the fishermen to sell their catch directly in the market?' The representatives of the provincial Government informed that FCS was operating under the Cooperative's Law and controlled by the Cooperative Department of the Government of Sindh. The Board, he said, comprised 15 members out of whom 08 were nominated by the Government where as the remaining are elected from the fishermen representatives. The Board has been suspended on 06-04-2006 and at present the affairs of FCS are being controlled through administrator Mr. Jaafar Khwaja appointed by the Registrar Cooperative Societies, Government of Sindh. He also informed an ambitious programme of boats' up-gradation is under way to upgrade nearly 200 fishing boats up to the international standards, similarly, refurbishing and upgradation of the main hall was also undertaken. The meeting was attended, among others, by Senators Shuja-ul-Mulk, Mir Wali Muhammad Badini, Ms. Pari Gul Agha, Muhammad Abbas Komaili, Mrs. Semeen Siddiqui and Raza Muhammad Raza besides senior officials of the Ministry of Food & Agriculture and representatives of the Sindh Government were also present on the occasion.