Introduction: The project has been designed to promote sea farming near coastal area of Pakistan which is 1100 km in length and have no coastal aquaculture/Mari culture existence. Pen/cage culture is a technology of fish production in which an enclosure is established in shallow sea water or in creek area outside sea. Pen are constructed in bodies of water with 3m water level or lower and where the bottom has loamy soils, and area have low water currents. Such enclosures are used for nursery of fish seed and grow out of larger fish species. It is a commercial activity which is being used widely in many countries especially far east countries like Philippine, Indonesia and Thailand etc. Currently Pakistan Sea Food Industry is facing problem of export due to less availability of raw material. Natural fish populations are under various pressure and their availability is decreasing with the passage of time. The main pressures are; increased fishing efforts, overharvesting, indiscriminate fishing, and use of illegal nets, pollution etc. Fisheries Development Board Keeping in view above mentioned facts, the project was designed for demonstration of pen/cage fish farm to provide the local people general awareness about pen/cage fish farm along the coastal belt and also brief them about alternate source of income. Fisheries Development board introduced the marine fish species sea bass milk fish and sea breams for Mari culture so for and also for the time being marked some hotspots of seabreams and milk fish juveniles/fry along the creek areas for the culture till the establishment commercial marine fish hatcheries and other missing components of the Mari culture.
Activities: Under this project following activities have been performed.
1-Initial Surveys for the site selection: various surveys have been conducted along the coast of sindh and Baluchistan in order to find suitable site for pen/cage farm.
2-Selected site study for pen farm: one of the site at Hub river has been studied in terms of hydrograph for 36 hours and data has been taken during maximum high tide as well as during minimum low tide.
3-Consultative work shop: A consultative work shop has been conducted in which different stake holders has been invited for the promotion of coastal aquaculture in Pakistan.
4-Surveys conducted for the wild seed collection: Various visits have been made to fishermen communities in order to use their traditional knowledge to find out hotspots of fish fry of Milk fish, Barramundi and Grouper. It has been observed that in Sindh coast milk fish juveniles are found abundantly during October to November in splash water which later on during winter season cut off from sea water and become dried entirely as a result of which mortality of all milk fish juvenile and loss of natural stock. The milk fish juvenile can be rear up to marketable size in pen/cage/ponds instead of use the wild stock as trash fish.
5-Happa net training: Training has been given 7 local fishermen for making Happa net for rearing fish juvenile.
6-Meeting with Universities staff: Meetings has been arranged with Teaching and Research staff of the following Universities for the promotion of coastal aquaculture. A-Karachi University and 2- University of Water Agriculture and marine Sciences Uthal Lasbella
7-Agreement Signed: An agreement has been made for use of adjacent land in order to establish pen farm around 4 acres at Hub River site.
8- Seed collection: About 15000 Milk fish fry has collected from the wild along the Sind coast and stocked in pen farm.
9-Harvesting of Milk Fish: Milk fish harvested after reaching up to 250 gram/pcs average weight without feeding and first time farm reared milk fish auctioned in fish market Gulshan e Hadeed Karachi to set put the trend of milkfish farming and to check the market value as well as response of consumers of farm reared milk fish which was found very positive.
10-Engineer Hiring: Engineer hired for the BoQ in order to make the accommodation and stay facility at pen farming site develop and access unmetalled road have been established to the pen farming site to the main Hub-Co road.
11-Installation of Hapa’s: Small hapas having length of 75 feet and 15 feet width also installed to monitor the fish very closely during nursing stage
12-Sea bass stocking: Sea bass about 40,000 fry imported from Thailand and stocked in happa net which was installed in pen farming area to check the growth rate of fish while feeding on trash fish as well as formulated imported feed.
13-Repairing and Renovation of the pen farming site: All small bushes which come with cyclone have been cleared. Old net was completely uninstalled and new once was installed. GI damaged poles reinstalled. Road to Pen farming site renovated to some extent. Very few numbers of fish recovered around the pen faming site and re stocked inside hapa net.
14- Visits of different delegations to Pen Farming sites: Students and staff of Institute of Marine science, center of Excellence in Marine Biology, University of Karachi and Lesbela University of Agriculture water and marine science visited the pen farming site for research and technological development of coastal aquaculture. Private sector delegations also visited the pen farming site to adopt this sort of business along the coastal belt.
15-Data Recording: Data has been recorded for the acclimatization of sea bass and growth monitoring in order to find out feeding response of sea bass on trash fish which was found very positive.
16- Hot spots of fish juveniles: After survey some of the hot spots of juveniles of milk fish and grouper were observed along the Sind and Baluchistan coast.
17-Collection of sea bream and rearing in hapa’s and maintaining of growth rate:1500 wild seed of seabrem was collected and stocked in hapas which were installed in pen farming area.
Threats Found/Damage to Pen Fish Farming site
Kyaar Cyclone in 2019 and Opening of the Hub river spill ways 2020 caused damaged to Pen Farming site as result of which no production was taken.
- Development of Marine cage farm at Bera Sonmiani: Site has been selected in consultation with foreign consultant and tender for the procurement of four marine cages with diameter of 10 meter, tender uploaded on newspaper after the release of EDF fund PO will issued to the vender.
- Installation of Marine cages: Marine cage will be installed just after supply and accommodation at site will be developed for the staff and as well as for storage purpose.
- Purchasing sea bass seed: Sea bass fry will be import from Thailand and nursed in hapas first for two months for the closely monitoring at pen farming site.
- Collection of fish seed from the wild: Milk fish, sea bream and other commercially important fish seed will be collected and will be stocked in pen farming site in hapas and later on shifted to the cage farming site.
- Research work at pen culture site: Pen farming site will be renovated and used for research purpose as well for the nursing of fry and juveniles and will be operated during non-rainy season.