FISHERIES SECTOR HOLDS HUGE EXPORT POTENTIAL

KANWAL SALEEM
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Apr 2 - 8, 20
12

Fisheries sector plays an important role in the national economy, as it provides employment to about 300,000 fishermen directly. In addition, another 400,000 people are employed in ancillary industries.

Fisheries sector is also a major source of export earning. Federal government is responsible for fisheries of exclusive economic zone of Pakistan. In addition, it is also responsible for making policies, inter-provincial co-ordination, planning, research, quality control, training, exploratory fishing, stock assessment, fisheries management, fleet improvement, data collection and export etc.

Pakistan is endowed with rich fishery potential, as it is located in the northern part of the Arabian Sea and has a coastline of about 1,120 km with a broad continental shelf and its Exclusive Economic Zone extends up to 200 n. miles from the coast.

There are about 16,000 fishing boats in coastal area of Pakistan, which operate in shallow coastal waters as well as in offshore areas. These fishing boats undertake fishing trips lasting for few hours to about 25 days depending upon type of fishing. Total production from inland and marine waters is approximately 0.60 million tons.

Karachi Fish Harbour that is operated by provincial government of Sindh handles about 90 per cent of fish and seafood catch in Pakistan and 95 per cent of fish and seafood exports from Pakistan. Korangi Fish Harbour is managed by federal ministry of food, agriculture and livestock. Pasni Fish Harbour is operated by provincial government of Balochistan. Gwadar Fish Harbour is managed by federal ministry of communication.

There are 29 fish processing units in Pakistan with storage capacity of 10,000 tons. Out of these, 25 units are located in Karachi.

Federal government provides intelligentsia and technical assistance to seafood establishments for improving their processing conditions in line with various EU / international standards. Through this process, eight establishments have already improved their conditions and were approved to export seafood to European Union countries. In addition, another five plants have almost upgraded their conditions and others are also undertaking changes in their facilities to comply with EU / international standards.

Fish and fishery products are processed and exported to over 50 countries. About 30 - 35 per cent of the fish and fishery products are exported to European Union countries. Japan, U. S. A. China, Saudi Arabia, U. A. E. Malaysia, S. Korea, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and Singapore are other major importing countries.

As per data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the exports of fish and fish preparations surged by 14.69 percent during the first eight months of current fiscal year (2011-12) against the corresponding period of 2010-11.

The exports of fish and fish preparations were recorded at $195.284 million during July-February (2011-12) as against the exports of $170.274 million during July-February (2010-11).

However, in terms of quantity, the fish exports witnessed nominal increase of 0.34 percent by going up from 74,265 metric tons to 74,518 metric tons. On month-on-month basis, the seafood exports also witnessed growth of 13.88 percent during February 2012 when compared to the same month of last year. The fish exports during February 2012 were recorded at $21 million against the exports of $18.441 million during February 2011. However, as compared to the exports of $21.401 million recorded during January 2012, the exports during February witnessed negative growth of 1.35 percent, the data revealed.

In terms of quantity, the fish exports increased by 5.57 percent in February 2012 when compared to the exports of February 2011 and decreased by 2.62 percent when compared to the exports of January 2012.

The overall food exports from the country witnessed nominal increase of 0.59 percent during the first eight months by going up from $2.601 billion during July-February (2010-11) to $2.616 billion in July-February (2011-12).

The food products that witnessed increase in exports during the period under review included rice (other than basmati), exports of which increased by 2.91 percent, fruits (15.02 per cent), leguminous vegetables (1,315 per cent), tobacco (37.85 per cent), oil, seeds, nuts and kernels (59.84 per cent), meat and meat preparation (16.46 per cent) and other food products (45.80 per cent).

The commodities that witnessed negative growth in exports included basmati rice (17.78 per cent), vegetables (36.69 per cent), wheat (53.22 per cent) and spices (1.49 per cent).

The overall exports from the country during the period under review witnessed negative growth of 0.48 percent by going down from $15.263 billion to $15.189 billion.

Imports into the country, during the period, increased by 16.36 percent from $25.600 billion to $29.788 billion.

Based on the figures, the trade deficit during the first eight months of the current fiscal year was recorded at $14.599 billion, against the deficit of $10.337 billion last year, showing an increase of 41.23 percent.