exports on the increase
The volume of sea-food exports
this fiscal is expected to bypass last year's earnings of $ 133 million
By Syed M. Aslam
Dec 25 - 31, 2000
Despite good performance during first five months of the current
fiscal, sea-food exports are feared not to sustain the much-needed growth in the remaining
months, particularly once the peak period is over two months from now.
It is interesting to note that value of sea-food exports increased
despite an almost similar reduction in the quantity during July-November this year over
the comparative period last year. The value of sea-food exports increased from $ 64.745
million in July-November last year to $ 71.394 million during the same period this year
despite a substantial reduction in quantity which declined from 40,149 tonnes to 37,048
tonnes. In short, earnings from sea-food exports increased by 10 per cent despite an 8 per
cent reduction in its quantity the unit price of exports registered a 19.5 per cent
increase from $ 1.61 per kilogram to $ 1.93 per kilogram.
Director General of Marine Fisheries Department, Muazzam Khan,
attributed the improved performance of the sea-food exports on an unprecedented increase
in the international prices of sea-food by as much as 30 per cent in July-August due
primarily to reduced production globally. In fact, he added, the gains made in these two
months are instrumental in sustaining the performance till now despite decrease in the
exports over the corresponding months last years both in terms of value and
October was not a good month and November was even worse. sea-food
exports increased slightly in terms of quantity and yet registered a decline in October-
volume of exports increased slightly to 9,849 tonnes this October over the corresponding
period last year while value of exports declined from $ 16.166 million to $ 15.748
November witnessed a drastic decrease both in terms of value and
quantity over the corresponding month last year quantity of sea-food exports
declined by 16 per cent from 10,024 tonnes to 8,419 tonnes while value of exports
registered a sharp decline of 14.8 per cent from $ 15.999 million to $ 13.731 million.
The sudden decline in quantity of sea-food exports directly reflects
the reduction in the quantity of the sea-food landings. While it is still too early to
ascertain the cause of the decline in the quantity of export, Muazzam said that it may be
caused by decreased landings of shrimps, particularly the premier priced quality Jaira,
due to lifting of the ban on trawling a month earlier than usual this year. However, with
two months of the peak season still remaining and the the premier July-August prices still
sustaining any shortfalls, the volume of sea-food exports this fiscal is expected to
bypass last year's earnings of $ 133 million, Muazzam added.
Pakistani sea-food exports are on a constant decline since earning a
record $ 171 million in 1997-98 primarily due to many problems faced by the related
industry. Muazzam blamed over-fishing as one of the major cause of erratic performance.
For instance, since 1971 shrimp landings have increased only 35 per cent despite over
four-fold increase in the number of fishing boats registered with the Karachi Fish
The increased shrimp landings also don't tell true picture because
though the overall annual landings have increased by an average of 35 per cent since 1971,
the landings of Jaira have declined by half from 10,000 tonnes, landings of medium sized
Kalri has remain unchanged in the vicinity of 6,000 tonnes and only the crop of lowest
priced Kiddi has been increased five-time. The increase in shrimp landings thus came at
the price of quality which makes little difference as far as the value is concerned.
Moreover, a sizeable portion of sea-food exports comprise such
high-priced fish such as Tuna in the dried form mainly to a single market of Sri Lanka at
throw-away prices. For instance, of the 83,138 tonnes of sea-food exported included 21,231
tonnes of dried fish in 1997. The practice is depriving the country a substantial amount
of foreign exchange earnings.
Not only the landings of Jaira is decreased but the size of this
premier quality of shrimp is also getting smaller due to ineffective implementation of the
traditional ban in June and July.
There are three types of over-fishing growth over-fishing,
reproductive over-fishing and environmental over-fishing and all of these are destroying
the local marine life. The sizes of shrimps and fish getting smaller and the unaffective
implementation of the ban is not only resulting in the catching of the patash, juvenile
shrimps, restricting their growth to reach fair size to fetch premium prices
internationally which is driven by size alone. It is also this is resulting in the
reproductive over-fishing due to absence of enough female, or male, population necessary
for the reproduction of the stocks which are fast depleting.
Human considerations are also posing challenges to the fishing industry
due to presence of large number of trawlers plying trade in an area which is
geographically restricted. There are no easy answers but the situation sure needs
corrective measures and policy for the greater benefit of the national economy and the