Fisheries Sector of Pakistan: Status, Outlook and Potential
Pakistan has more than 7,9200 square kilometer water area of aquatic resource in the form of rivers, barrages, dams, lakes, wetlands, and coastal waters and about 290,270 square kilometer Exclusive Economic Zone in the sea along Sindh and Balochistan Coast. Pakistan had about 201 million people in 2018 which was sixth highest in the world ranking and the second highest in South Asian region and Pakistan’s population is expected to increase to about 244 million till 2030. Pakistan’ has about 0.59% of the world’s land area, and 0.57 % of the world inland aquatic area, while Pakistan’s coastline length is about 0.13 percent of world coastline length. Pakistan possesses about 0.45% of world’s total renewable aquatic resources which are less than its 2.63 % share of the world’s population in year 2018. Pakistan’s daily per capita average protein consumption increased from 59.4 g/day to 65.5 g/day from 1993 to 2013. Fish export of Pakistan increased from 86,294 m.t. ($150 million) in 2000 to 166267 mt ($431 million) in 2021. Pakistan’s fish import increased from $ 0.3 million in 2000 to $ 10.5 million in 2021. Pakistan’s aquaculture production increased more than tenfold, from 12,485 M.T in 2000 to 157,469 M.T in 2017. Population growth of Pakistan is expected to increase fish demand about 120,614 M.T (350,473 M.T in 2013 to 471,088 M.T in 2030). If the additional demand of 120,614 M.T need to be covered entirely through aquaculture, the aquaculture production in Pakistan would needs to be reached upto 278,110 M.T in 2030.
Keeping in view the aquaculture production and its growth potential, it is high time for the government to focus and invest in fisheries especially aquaculture sector, there are many areas in value chain having gaps which can be filled up only by the government. main points for consideration are given below:
- Institutional strengthening: the management of fisheries sector is fragmented divided in two ministries at federal level viz. Ministry of National Food security and Research and Ministry of Maritime Affairs due to unjust distribution after 18th Amendment. Due to this confusion, policy for development, import and export is not coherent. Further, there is a need to address aquaculture development as separate function under a regulatory authority having jurisdiction over inland as well as marine (coastal and deep sea) waters.
- Legal framework needs to be established to regulate aquaculture production and import/ export of aquaculture products.
- Infrastructure development: for promotion of high value species, hatcheries need to be established under government domain initially and later technology be transferred to private sector and then public hatcheries would serve as Research and Development Centers. Fish Markets should be established as Common Facility Centers under Public Private Partnership. Cold Chain infrastructure and feed mills needs to be established in Private Sector for which Government may provide financial incentives.
- Training and Capacity Building of public and private sector stakeholders needs to be established under a regular program through Fisheries Development Board on permanent basis for which training and demonstration centers needs to be established.
- There is a need to establish an aquaculture development fund for provision of matching grants and interest free loans to the selected project in Public and Private sector with targeted output in next 30 years.
With these interventions, Pakistan can meet the growing demand of seafood products in the coming years and can save lot of money on import of seafood products.