(October 11, 2017)
President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and Former Provincial Minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday said Pakistan has the potential of being a major producer of seafood, which cannot only feed a growing population but can also earn valuable foreign exchange and create jobs.
Fish is a major source of nutrition and contributes to the food security and poverty alleviation while fish consumption in Pakistan is among the lowest in the world at around 2kg per capita, compared to a world average of almost 20 kg per capita, he said.
President PBIF said that Pakistan has a total coastline of 1,120 km, covering Makran as well as the coast of Karachi and a total fishing area of approximately 300,270 sq. Kilometer. These areas are highly rich in marine life with a vast variety of species. There are still marine fisheries resources remaining to be explored and developed. Previous year raw fishes were exported worth Rs 61 million, this amount could be much more if it were exported after adding value to it.
There are around 200 organised and 1200 informal units in this sector providing direct and indirect jobs to around a million people but exports are not picking up due to multiple issues.
The veteran business leader said that absence of an ineffective cold chain, boats lacking the specifications, hygiene, sub-standard wooden containers, and leaked oil from machines rusting fish are some issues that need attention.
Moreover, increasing pollution, domestic and industrial waste, traces of toxic materials in fish, overfishing even in breeding season, and illegal fishing are also matters of concern.
The former Minister said that government should ensure availability of quality fish seed and fish feed for inland farming, provide financing facility, improve certification and marketing system to make this industry thrive and improve exports.
Pakistan Fisheries Exporters Association (PFEA) and Fisheries Development Board (FDB) are doing a good job in this regard therefore Government should consult them to improve the situation as Pakistan has a good domestic and an international market for fish, shrimps and fish products, he said.