FISHING & FISHERIES INDUSTRY IN PAKISTAN

PROF. SAEED AHMAD SIDDIQUI
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Mar 12 - 18, 20
12

Fish is the cheap and best source of protein for human and fishing and fisheries industry is the important source to earn foreign exchange for Pakistan. Import of fish in Pakistan is almost nil, while export is on the large scale nevertheless fisheries share in GDP is only 0.3 percent.

Fishery sector provides employment to 1.5 million individuals and their families. In some of rural areas especially in Sindh and Baluchistan where alternate employments are non-existent, fishing and fish keeping has proved to be the best source of improving living standard of people and it is expected that aquaculture (fish breeding) would prove to be the important source for filling the negative gap between demand for and supply of fish.

ROLE IN THE ECONOMY: The role of fishing and fisheries industry is of paramount importance in the economy of Pakistan. Coastline of Arabian Sea is 814 kilometers along Pakistan therefore there are abundant fishery resources. Nevertheless, these resources need development. A dominant part of population residing along the coastal areas of Sindh and Baluchistan mainly depends on fisheries for their livelihood.

DEMAND FOR FISH: Growth of population is tremendous in Pakistan. Fish production was 611. 246 tonnes in December 2012 out of which 476.711 tonne only was useable. Per capita consumption of fish in Pakistan is about two kilogram a year lowest in the world. It is because Pakistanis, by nature, are not fish eaters. Inland fish production is generally consumed locally and it is excepted that situation will remain unchanged in future also.

TRADE: Fish industry is the important source of foreign exchange. Approximately 10 percent of total catch is exported every year. During July-May 2011, fish worth 217 million dollars was exported. The important importers of Crustaceans and Moluscs are European Union countries, Japan and America while the important importers of fish include China, South Korea, Middle East countries, Singapore and near east countries.

EMPLOYMENT: Employment through fishing in primary sector was on top in 1997 when 416,405 fishermen sought employment in fishery business but employment began to fall in this sector. High unemployment is there in inland sector. Inland sector is labor intensive and less productive (177,572 fishermen and catch per head is 0.80 tonne a year) while mechanized sector gives more production; 146,917 fishermen with 2.59 tonne a year.

Secondary sector (processing/marketing) absorbs about 55,000 people. Women dominate in getting employment in this sector working in shrimps treating (sorting and packing) plants. Proportion of women workers is also dominant in net repairing. It is obvious that secondary sector has more employment potential in future as compared to the primary sector.

CONTRIBUTION IN GNP: Pakistan achieves on an average 352,056 tonne fish every year through fishing and fish farming valuing Rs57,000 million.

MANAGEMENT: Fishing industry of Pakistan is organized and controlled by FDC, which is under Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Livestock (MFAL).

FDC is held responsible for policy, planning and coordinating provincial fisheries departments and other national and international agencies like Asia Pacific Fishery Commission etc. The Marine sub-sector is run by Marine Fisheries Department (MFD). Research for fisheries, measures are taken by Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) while some of the universities of Pakistan are also involved in basic research on this behalf.

RESOURCES: Pakistan has various marine and inland fishery resources. It is cautiously estimated that there is potential of one million tonne a year in marine subsector only. The important resources include 250 Demersal fish species, 50 small Pelagic species, 15 medium size Pelagic species and 20 large size Pelagic species.

Moreover, 15 commercial species of shrimps, 12 cephalopods, and five kinds of lobsters are also included. Indus River Delta has very deep effect on marine resources on coastline of Sindh because this river system is providing nutrients and sediment to the continental shelf on the large scale since many centuries.

Pakistan has also abundant inland water areas system dominated especially by River Indus. Amongst inland water bodies, water locks, ponds, lakes, rivers and reservoirs are included which are important for aquaculture subsector. These water bodies cover aggregately eight million hectares.

MARINE VARIETIES: In shrimp variety, apart from penaeus indicus and penaeus monodon species other 12 species are included. The survey of Arabian sea reveals that the commercial species of crustaceans like shrimps and lobsters are caught indiscriminately. Cephalopods, crabs and other mollusks are non-traditional resources. Despite this, there is a significant substitute potential in the export market.

Demersal fish resources are being used excessively. Nevertheless, very limited increase in their catch is possible in future. Using new methods and techniques of fishing would become indispensable for the fishermen for increasing the volume of catch. Large variety of pelagic fish like Skipjack Tuna and its relative varieties are available in exclusive economic zone of Karachi district.

The varieties that are harvested by local fishing fleet include Frigate Mackerel, India Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Barracudes and dolphin fish. Moreover, Mussels, Oysters, clams, seaweed, Kelp, Sea Urchin, and other marine resources are also available in Pakistan.

HARBORS: Karachi Fish Harbor is the largest and oldest harbor of its kind used by all kinds of fishing boats. Presently, there are more than 4000 fishing crafts based in this harbor. This harbor caters the needs of 75 percent of local fleet. Karachi Fish Harbor handles 90 percent fish and seafood catch and 95 percent fish and seafood export from Pakistan.

Korangi Fish Harbor is managed by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Live Stock.

Pasni Fish Harbor is managed by the provincial government of Baluchistan.

Gwadar Fish Harbor is managed by Federal Ministry of Communication.

FISHING METHODS: The following fishing methods are used in Pakistan:

Shrimp Fishing: Shrimp fishing is very meaningful because in addition to earn huge foreign exchange this method provides employment also on the large scale.

TUNA FISHERY: Tuna catch is an important aspect of fishing industry. Tuna is caught by artisanal fishing vessels. Generally, Tuna is shot in the evening through Gillnet and the net is fetched in the morning targeting mainly pelagic species as they command high commercial value.

BENTHIC FISHERY: Deepwater fishing is used comparatively less because the local fishing vessels are neither suitable nor they are properly equipped for fishing in deep waters. Benthic fishery is carried on small scale along coastal in shore waters. Fishermen use nylon gillnet for this purpose. Benthic variety includes Jew fish, Croakers, Grunters, Shaper, Groupers, Ribbonfish, and Pomfret.

PALEGIC FISHERY: Pelagic fishing is used in Sindh on small scale by special nets using wooden sailboats. Fishing by this method is done especially in Ibrahim Hydari and Chashma Goth villages.

VESSELS: Two types of vessels are used for fishing in Pakistan firstly, Mechanized Docked Boats which are 6000 and secondly Mechanized Sailboats made of wood which are 2000 in Pakistan.

INLAND SUB-SECTORS: Inland subsectors include various sources like fresh water catches dominated by Indus River and its tributaries. Eighty percent of Inland fish products are provided by rivers and reservoirs. There are more than 100 natural lakes of different size in Sindh only spread over about 100,000 hectares area. Amongst them Haleji, Kinjhar and Manchchar lakes are important. Manchchar lake provides livelihood to 2000 fishermen families. Important lakes in Punjab are Namal, Uchali, Kallar Kahar and Khabikki lakes. Apart from lakes, aquaculture (fish farming) is also an important source of fish.

Fish farming is concentrated in Sindh, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. There are about 12,000 fish farms providing employment to 15,000 families. Fish farms are concentrated in Sindh at Thatta, Badin and Dadu districts. Badin and Thatta are suitable for fish farming.

Fish farming is concentrated in Punjab at Shikhu Pura, Gujranwala and Attock. Fish farms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are scattered in Chitral, Deer, Malakund, Sawat, Mansehra and FATA. Another method of fish farming is Mariculture (coastal aquaculture) but in spite of its potential, this method is almost absent in Pakistan. This method is used on Indus River Delta and Somiani Beach. Although species of Oyster are found in Pakistan which are best source of nutrition, commercial harvesting of oyster is not carried.

Problems of Fishery Industry: Fishing and fishery industry needs the solutions of the following problems:

1. OVERFISHING: Shrimps overfishing for the whole year is the basic problem of fishing and fishery industry due to which fish are not given the chance to grow as they are caught in the first stage of their growth. Moreover, fish are caught during their breeding season.

2. WATER POLLUTION: Water pollution at coastal area is confined to Karachi only. Karachi Fish Harbor faces different types of pollution. Oil spillage from the vessels and domestic and industrial wastes are the big threat. Experiments proved the existence of various chemicals, toxic and heavy materials in marine life. These injurious and deadly elements are being transferred to the humans through fish. Water pollution is not confined to Karachi coastal areas but rivers of Pakistan are also the victim of this problem.

3. LOSS OF MANGROVES: Mangroves (oceanic forests) are the hurdles against high and low tides. These mangroves play the role of breeding ground of fish and shrimps. Mangroves cannot grow and develop in polluted water.