News Desk |
The Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi informed a Senate Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs on Monday that the European Union has not purchased fish from Pakistan for the last three years.
During the briefing, the minister told the committee that the “EU insists on visiting Karachi’s fishery whose auction hall is not in proper condition at the moment.” He added that “an inspection right now can even result in complete ban on Pakistan’s fish products. Senator Nuzhat Sadiq chaired the senate panel.
For uplifting of the fisheries sector in Pakistan, Zaidi said that the capacity building of fishermen with a special focus on sustainable fishery in the Arabian Sea was imperative. “This initiative will not only raise the living standard of coastal inhabitants but will also contribute a huge amount to the national exchequer,” he said.
One of the reasons why EU has not been buying Pakistan’s fish for last 3 years, the minister said, was due to lack of coordination between provincial and federal authorities. He said fishery, which was considered a source of livelihood for locals of the coastal areas, was suffering and the senators should suggest ideas for improving the current condition of the auction hall and the locals affiliated with the business.
Meanwhile, Senator Usman Khan Kakar raised the issue of non-payment of salaries to Port Qasim Authority (PQA) dockworkers. It emerged during the briefing that the workers employed by the respective cargo handling companies (CHCs) were never registered by the PQA.
“The dispute of salary/compensation is purely between a Chinese company and the employees at the requisite marginal wharf 3&4 at Port Qasim Authority,” the media quoted the minister as saying before the senate penal. He apprised the committee members that the matter is also sub judice as the labour union has filed a case against its employers at the Labour Court Karachi and the court has granted stay to the labour union.
Fisheries Contribute only 0.4 Percent to GDP
In July 2018, Dawn reported that fisheries currently contribute only 0.4 per cent to the GDP, and the sector’s approximately $350 million of exports appears to be at a standstill. Comparisons to other countries in the region suggest that Pakistan is failing to fully realize the potential of its capture.
The Pakistan Economic Survey 2017-18 estimated that during the first eight months of fiscal year 2017-18, the report added, total marine and inland fish production was estimated at 482,000 metric tonnes, out of which 338,000 metric tonnes was from marine waters and the remaining catch came from inland waters.
Whereas the fish production for the same period of fiscal year 2016-17 was estimated to be 477,000 metric tonnes in which 332,000 metric tonnes was from marine and the remaining was produced by inland fishery sector.
Pakistan’s major buyers are China, Thailand, Malaysia, Middle East, Sri Lanka, and Japan and Pakistan’s export for 2016-17 of fish and fishery products was 89,032 metric tonnes which earned $239 million. The export of fish and fishery products increased by 21.6 percent in quantity and 10.5 percent in value during 2017-18.
The World Bank report “Revitalizing Pakistan’s Fisheries” says that the European Union countries, Japan, and the United States are the world’s biggest export markets for seafood, yet at present, they account for less than 3 percent of Pakistan’s fisheries export earnings (about $9.3 million annually).
Pakistan’s fisheries could capture a bigger percentage of these markets. However, the newspaper said, to meet EU and US quality standards, processing plants and supply chain management of seafood will need to improve further.
As far as marine capture fisheries are concerned, the World Bank report warned that Pakistan’s major marine fisheries are either fully or overexploited. The major commercial fish stocks face considerable overfishing, and in some instances, are already depleted.
Aquaculture and Global Demand for Fish Products
In March 2019, the paper also reported that aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing food sectors worldwide but in Pakistan, aquaculture is dominated by low-value, low-productivity carp production while marine and coastal aquaculture, such as shrimp farming, is almost nonexistent.
While comparing performance of aquaculture with the neighboring countries, the report said, it was growing at 1.5 percent annually as opposed to 6.8 percent and 9.5 percent in India and Bangladesh, respectively.
Among the reasons, the report said, the sector is growing slowly in Sindh because of constraints on private-sector investment, which exist despite the availability of global trade opportunities and favorable agro-climatic conditions.