17 - 23, 2009

Fisheries sector contributes 0.03 per cent to the overall GDP and 1.3 per cent to the agricultural GDP of Pakistan that has a coastal line of 1050 kilometers and a total area of approximately 0.3 million square kilometers of marine and 0.08 million square kilometers on inland water.

During 2006-07, the total marine and inland fish production stood at 0.65 million metric tons of which 63 per cent was marine production and the remaining 37 percent of inland waters. The 50 per cent of the total production i.e. 0.3 million tons was consumed locally, 0.12 million tons of fish and fish products were exported and 0.18 million tons of the fish production was used as fishmeal.

According to one report, this sector has an export potential of $1billion annually, it provides direct employment to about 379,000 fishermen, and 400,000 people are employed in ancillary industries.

At present, about 45,000 fishing crafts of different kinds such as, making of mechanical sailboats, sailboats, rowboats, trawlers, and gill netters etc. are prevalent in the mainland and marine areas i.e. rivers, ponds, sea-shores, and high seas.

River Indus, which flows from the mountains of NWFP southwards and after entering the Punjab province near Attock falls into the Indian Ocean in the Sindh province near Karachi, dominates inland fisheries.

The Indus is joined by four large rivers that flow through most of the extent of the Punjab. An extensive canal system and inter-connecting waterways is a salient feature of this network throughout the inland heartland in the Punjab and upper Sindh. The fish harbors are located at Karachi port, Ibrahim Hydari, Gwadar, Ormara, and Pasni in Balochistan. The fish are very nutritive diet for the human beings. They are the vital natural resources of the world. There are more than twenty thousand of fish species, but nearly 1500 to 9,000 are currently in use, which serves the nutritional, economical, and trading phenomena of the human being.

It is an established fact that seas, oceans, rivers, streams, estuaries, mangroves, ponds, lakes, and man-made reservoirs are the largest factors of organic matter of the country. These water resources are utilized for more fish nourishment and cultivation purposes and offer tremendous opportunities for farming of fish organisms.

Indian Ocean near southern Pakistan is the main source of fish for the country. In recent years, the marine fish (fish and shrimp) production in Pakistan is nearly 656 x 103 MT. Pakistan has a coastline of 1050 km, covering Mekran (Balochistan) and the coast of Karachi (Sindh). In its water areas, Pakistan has more than 100 species of fish and nearly 25 of them have a fruitful commercial value.

The other sources for catching fish are inland resources such as small rivers, dams, barrages, lakes (Haleji, Keenjhar, Manchhar etc.), reservoirs, ponds and canals covering a substantial water area and in these areas inland fisheries can be stocked with better variety of fish both for sweet water and brackish water. Existing facilities for breeding and supply of fish and dissemination of technical knowhow for improving fish are strengthened.

It is estimated that nearly hundred thousand of fresh fish are consumed yearly in the country. Pakistan is one of the protein-deficient countries of the world. Our per capita consumption of fish is about10.90 kg. Fish is considered best animal protein for human consumption. In Pakistan, the per capita consumption of fish is, however, very low in comparison with other nations. In European countries it is 20 kg and in Japan it is 64 kg.

Of the total marine fish, about 42 per cent are consumed locally in the form of fresh fish or fish processed into fishmeal. The marine fish are disposed of or marketed as fresh, freezing, canning for local consumption. Fish proteins have high biological value. It contains variable quantities of calcium, phosphorus, fat and other nutrients important for human health and growth. Fish oils are rich sources of the soluble fat. An excessive use of fish generally lowers the blood cholesterol level and reduces the risk of coronary heart diseases. Fish products are also used in the preparation of anti-viral, anti-biotic, and anti-cancer agents.

Fish is used in the better handling and distribution of marketable yield and manufacturing of poultry feed, fish manure for fertilizer, fish oil as medicine and for printer ink.

Pakistan is endowed with large coastlines encompassing the most productive ocean in the world. The geographical setting of the country is ideal for the development of fish industry. There appears to be good prospect for further development of inland fish production, especially in the man-made reservoirs, waterlogged areas and the Indus delta region.

A properly developed fish industry can increase export to earn huge foreign exchange. It can also provide a source of vitamin-rich diet. Development of fishery can also play an important role in provision of employment and growth opportunities to many small and middle-income communities along the coastlines. A major factor in the development of modern fish industry is the establishment of adequate hatcheries, nurseries for carps, and trout processing plants, storage facilities, and preservation and marketing techniques. In addition, a properly developed fish industry requires the assistance of a host of allied industries such as the manufacturers of gears, boats, engines and other items necessary for the fish industries.

The objective of fish production should be to ensure the provision of food through application of new efficient and economically feasible capture. Commercially important marine and shore animals and plants require special sanctuaries under the direct supervision of scientists. Whatever the technical, financial, and research inputs, the desired rate of expansion of fisheries production and utilization can be achieved only if due attention is paid to the intensive problem by conducting research programmes.

Different organizations have planned to establish research projects covering both marine and fresh water fisheries and allied aquaculture. Major emphasis has to be made on extensive surveys of fisheries resources and fauna of mangrove forest wetland, postharvest deterioration of marine shrimps, fish and shellfish resources of coastal areas, breeding biology, and seed production of commercially important freshwater fishes, feed formulation for fish culture, freshwater prawn culture, trout fish farming and fisheries management. With concerted efforts along with proper incentives, the fisheries production is likely to increase, leading to its greater role in the national economy.