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Falling seafood exports; policy overhaul needed

Researchers revealed that Pakistani fish exporters are getting relatively lower prices of their seafood exported because they exported 90 percent un-processed and frozen fish. Therefore, urgent attempts are required for operationalizing the fish processing plants in the country. Present statistics also showed that the country’s seafood export declined to $438.021 million during FY2018-19 because of hasty enforcement of the federal government’s deep sea policy that kept fishing suspended for about 3-month period.

According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Pakistan declined short by $12.286 million or 3 percent to keep up with the seafood export of $451.021 million FY2017-18. According to the Pakistan Fisheries Exporters Association, Pakistan could have increased export by 30 percent, at least, but the clampdown on the hunting boats after the sudden implementation of fisheries policy without consultation with stakeholders. It is also said that the present Government of Pakistan without consulting with the stakeholders concerned implemented that resulted in a break of about 3-month of fishing, which brought down the country’s seafood export to $438.021 million during FY2018-19.

Pakistan’s export receipts By Fish & Fish Preparations  (Thousand US $)
Year Value Year Value
Dec-03 21,308 Dec-12 27,640
Dec-04 18,368 Dec-13 34,840
Dec-05 18,633 Dec-14 37,553
Dec-06 19,175 Dec-15 34,310
Dec-07 15,917 Dec-16 36,149
Dec-08 20,559 Dec-17 40,782
Dec-09 22,213 Dec-18 39,647
Dec-10 24,179 Jul-19 (P) 36,429
Dec-11 32,276

It is also said that Pakistan was progressing with seafood export growth by about 30 percent yearly, which the industry missed unluckily this time. Researchers revealed that in Pakistan the sustainable conservation of marine resources, promotion of shrimp culture, enhancing the fish processing for exports, provision of proper facilities at fish markets, fetching higher prices for exported seafood and formulation of sustainable fishing policy are ways forward for the sustainable development of seafood resources development.

In term of volume, the country’s seafood export fell to 195,523 metric tons during July-June 2018-19 from 196,927 metric tons during July-June 2017-18, explaining a decline of 1 percent or 1404 metric tons. In June 2019, the country exported $32.168 million of seafood, which is higher by 19 percent or $5.125 million from $27.043 million during June 2018. Seafood export quantity also increased by 19 percent or 2392 metric tons to 15,213 metric tons during June 2019 from 12,821 metric tons during June 2018.


Experts also recorded that the clampdown on boats, which just had entered into the new fishing season, not only declined the catch volume but also resulted in low processing of the seafood and export. The chaos that took various months to end, mainly, struck the fisheries export, adding that “appeal and demand of the country seafood is growing globally but the country has a very little catch to feed the world consumers.

The government should focus on aquaculture development to augment the country’s seafood export phenomenally. Furthermore, fall in seafood resources, lack of shrimp culture, improper facilities at fish markets, lack of sustainable fishing policy and low export prices of seafood are major issues to the fishery production and exports from Pakistan.

Statistics also showed that about 80 percent products landed on the harbors go to fish meal plants. The use of unlawful nets is rising and majority of the fishing boats carry these nets both in Sindh and Balochistan coastline. Vessels and illegal nets are used for overfishing which resultantly reduced raw material catch (Norwegian research vessel) and therefore, fisheries resources are declining in Pakistan.

Shrimp aquaculture is not subsisted in the country. Only 10 percent or less farmed fish are being exported from Pakistan. Even subsisting fish processing units are utilizing 25 percent of their capacity. There is no shrimp farming in Pakistan even having 100 km coastal area. Preservation of Mangroves is additionally needed to increment the exports and to fixate on aquaculture. Local administration controls the fish markets which have inadequate facilities like poor hygienic situations, inadequate cold storage facilities, and limited communication links and resultantly fish get less price of their engender. Researchers also revealed that most of the aquaculture products are consumed locally and fish having more than 3 kg weight fetches less price; because the prices depend on the freshness of the fish also supply of and demand for fish. Consumers like freshwater fish greater than the marine fish. The prices of freshwater fish are higher than sea fish. The Arabian Sea Ocean physically contacting Pakistani shores, comprises of one of the world’s most distinctive and intricate oceanographic regions and is believed as biologically more productive areas which lack a stringent implementation of June and July fishing ban and prohibition of usage of unlawful fishing nets. Pakistan greatly depends on the sea crop to meet the world demand for seafood, which is very short,” it is also said that other states counting India have shifted their burden to aquaculture from marine fisheries to raise their worldwide share.


It is important to note that the Government of Pakistan could then beat textile sector export alone if aquaculture is promoted. There is an urgent attempts are required through the fisheries authorities to take immediate initiatives to save marine resources from complete depletion when it is too late and there is no shrimp or fish available to export. Such immediate initiatives include implementation of government’s writ on the coastal belt (controlling over fishing by the vessels and utilization of illicit nets) development of investment cordial land lease policy, regime support in infrastructure, development of farm clusters with government and offering them technical support. Efforts are furthermore required by the Federal Regime for enhancing the inter provincial coordination for conserving the seafood resources.

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