An Overview Of The Fisheries Industry Commerce Essay


The word fishery pertains to an area with fish or aquatic inhabitation used for collecting fish and other sea foods. These range from wild or farmed, belonging to either saltwater (sea), or freshwater (ponds, lakes, rivers etc.).

Majority of fisheries in the world are marine, rather than freshwater, although most are located along coastlines because it is easier to harvest from shallow waters, compared to deep open seas. Second to these, prolific wild fisheries also exist in deep, open water masses, especially in areas such as seamounts, lakes and rivers.

Apart from the above-mentioned sources, fish and other aquatic food is also farmed in tanks, lakes, ponds and other enclosed spaces.

Worldwide Fisheries

Overall, world fish trade contributes heavily towards world economies. According to the FAO, following are some of the important facts about world fish production and trade:

Total global fishery production from capture fisheries and aquaculture reached

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140 million tonnes in 2004, with 32.4% of that coming from aquaculture. With

aquaculture excluded, world global "capture fisheries' production in 2004 was

95 million tonnes.

In 2004, total world exports of fish and fish products reached a record value of US $71.5 billion, a 51% increase from 1994.

Top ten capture fishery producing countries have not changed since 1992, with

China, Peru and the United States in the first three places since 2001.

Top importing countries

Japan (US$14.6 billion worth of imports)

United States (US$12 billion)

Spain (US$5.2 billion)

France (US$4.2 billion)

Italy (US$3.9 billion)

United Kingdom (US$2.8 billion)

Germany (US$2.8 billion).

Top exporting Countries

China (exports valued at US$6.6 billion)

Norway (US$4.1 billion)

Thailand (US$4.0 billion)

United States (US$3.9 billion)

Denmark (US$3.6 billion)

Canada (US$3.5 billion)

Spain (US$2.6 billion)

Chile (US$2.5 billion)

Netherlands (US$2.5 billion)

Viet Nam (US$2.4 billion).

Fisheries in Pakistan

Among many export based sectors in Pakistan, fisheries sector has been contributing a substantial amount of revenue to our economy. This sector is perhaps the most pervasive economic activity in our coastal area, and it has been providing the locals with employment and helping the country generate valuable revenue. Apart from the fact that this sector can do much more, environmental degradation and unhygienic treatment and storage of catch has only added salt to its ulcerated afflictions.

Pakistan has a coastline of 1050 km. where 70 % belongs to Baluchistan, and rest to Sindh and total area of 300,270 sq. km. that serves as a natural motherland for fishermen and aquatic life alike. Apart from this coastline, Pakistan also supports extensive river systems along its length and breadth.

The land of Pakistan offers a great geographic diversity when it comes to landscapes and environmental settings. This statement is specially true for the NWFP. As a result of climatic variations, the rivers and streams range from deep to shallow, clear to murky, cold to warm, fast to slow and may have stony, sandy or muddy bottom and rich or scarce vegetation along the banks. Similarly, the many rivers of Punjab, and the mighty Indus of Sindh can never be ignored. All this area has been serving the locals by helping them earn their livelihood and nutrition since thousands of years. Having said this, we cannot ignore the fact that fishing and fish trade has always thrived on a small scale, serving the needs of locals and nearby areas, and it was only after the creation of Pakistan that fisheries started developing at a mass scale in form of a proper sector.

Pakistan's freshwater resources are dominated by the Indus River system, which serves as a drainage basin for the Himalayas. The Indus originates in western Tibet and enters Pakistan through Baltistan. As the river flows through the Northern Areas, the Shyok, Astor and Gilgit rivers join the Indus. In the NWFP it is joined by the Kabul River, where the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej join it and then it flows into Sindh before draining into the Arabian Sea. An extensive canal system and inter-connecting waterways are a salient feature of this network throughout the inland heartland in the Punjab and upper Sindh.

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Inland waters, which extend over about 8 million hectares area include a network of canals, dams, lakes and water-logged areas. At least 180 species of fish are reported to exist in Pakistan freshwaters, including representatives from important groups such as loaches, carps and catfish. A total production of 185 000 tons of fish was recorded from inland waters of Pakistan during 2000-2001 (Government of Pakistan, 2001).

There are 28 fish species listed as inhabiting cold waters of Pakistan. Most of the snow trout are restricted to the Trans-Himalayan Region of the Indus system where the temperature of the river remains below 20°C and only a few come down from the mountains, mainly due to low water temperature.

The fish harbours are located at Karachi port, Ibrahim Hydari, Gwadar, Ormara and Pasni in Balochistan. The fish are very nutritive diet for the human beings. They are the vital natural resources of the world. There are more than twenty thousand of fish species, but nearly 8,500-9,000 are currently in use which serves the nutritional, economical and trading phenomena of the human beings. It is an established fact that seas, oceans, rivers, streams, estuaries near-shore sea, estuaries, mangroves, ponds, lakes and man-made reservoirs are the largest factors of organic living matter of the country. These water resources are being utilized for more fish extensively nourishment and cultivation purposes and offer tremendous opportunities for farming of fish organisms. Indian Ocean near southern Pakistan is the main source of fish for the country. The other sources for catching fish are inland resources such as small rivers, dams (Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma), barrages, lakes (Haleji, Keenjhar and Manchhar), reservoirs, ponds and canals covering a substantial water area and in these areas inland fisheries can be stocked with better variety of fish both for sweet water and brackish water.

Local Fishing Process

Anglers make the catch.

Return to market.

An auction per kg is held

Bidding is done on different kinds of fish (kaan/parchi or open bidding)

Transport on company (hire)

What's Plaguing the Local Market?

The organization of the Provincial Fisheries Departments has been very poor at the beginning of aquaculture activities during 1980s and to some extent is still in a similar position in Balochistan and NWFP provinces according to official government reports and statements released in the press [i] . With the exception of a pilot shrimp farm in Sindh and one pilot trout culture facility in NWFP, virtually all aquaculture in Pakistan consists of pond culture of various carp species.

The fisheries industry has a number of clusters, which is not very beneficial because it generates cutthroat competition among bidders who end up quoting higher prices than necessary.

Women in Fisheries

In Pakistan, the contribution of women in fisheries is common among the fishing communities but among fish farmers, women usually do not partake in the dealings when it is a independent company. However, women are occupied in aquaculture activities when it is part of a family venture and help is required in feeding, planting grasses in the ponds and guarding the ponds when the farm is near their huts.

Role of Fisheries Sector in Pakistan's Economy

According to the economic survey of Pakistan, the fisheries sector account for only 0.3% of the GDP and it has witnessed a growth of 4.2% in 2006-07 against 20.5% of 2005-06. Parts of fisheries are marine fishing and inland fishing, which have contributed to an overall increase in value addition in the fisheries sector. Marine fisheries registered a growth of 1.2% against a negative growth of 2.7% in 2005-06.

Current Senario

Eased by government support such as tax holidays, import exemption for engines and gear, credit schemes and export incentives, the shrimp trawler fleet has increased very rapidly over the years. The stock evaluation studies have indicated that a fleet of 550 to 600 shrimp trawlers is ample to take advantage of the maximum sustainable yield, but the fleet is currently almost thrice that level. Because of the increasing fleet capacity, the production of precious shrimp is stagnant. Overexploitation of the white and brown/pink shrimp resources has led to greater exploitation of small kiddi shrimp to supply a growing market for frozen, peeled shrimps over last decade, resulting in a decrease in the size of kiddi shrimp.

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In 1983, the Government introduced a two-month annual closed season for shrimp fishing, which coincides more or less with the main period of recruitment of the white shrimp. It is observed that a close season by itself cannot be useful until the fleet size is reduced to an appropriate level. There is some resentment from fishers and the closed season is not always respected by vessels.

Karachi fish harbour has a capacity to berth around 600-700 fishing boats. The hygienic conditions of the Karachi Fish Harbour and auction facilities and premises have improved considerably, although a lot still needs to be desired.

Realizing the importance of improvement in the quality of fish and fishery products, an effective quality control programme for fish and fishery products has also been introduced. For effective implementation of the Pakistan Fish Inspection and Quality Control Act 1997, detailed rules - Pakistan Fish Inspection and Quality Control Rules - were notified in 1998. The rules include detailed specifications for handling and processing of fish and fishery products at processing establishments, on factory vessels, on fishing vessels and in fish harbours, and for water and ice quality.

An FAO/TCP project on Strengthening of Fish Handling, Processing and Quality Assurance in Balochistan is being implemented by FAO (FAO contribution of US$ 244 550), with the aim of enhancing local capabilities in the functional area of improved handling and processing of seafood products in Balochistan coastal areas. There is provision of technical advice and training in the fields of implementation of improved fish handling on board, value-added seafood processing techniques, seafood marketing and quality assurance to the seafood industry and trade in Balochistan province. In coastal Balochistan, fisheries are the central economic activity and a major source of income and employment.

Trade Bans

Recent years have seen Pakistani fishery trade being banned in several countries such as the European Union and Kuwait. Reasons of such bans included poor handling and storage of catch due to old, dilapidating infrastructure, which was pointed out as the most important reason.

The ban on Pakistan seafood exports to the European Union (EU) member states has completed one year. Exporters have, however, been trying to nullify the impact of the ban by making shipments to various markets fetching low price as compared to Europe.

According to March 18, 2008 Dawn Newspaper,

"During July to October, 2007, there was huge landing of fish at the harbour but the exporters fetched low price from the buyers in the Middle East and the Far East. Even some shipments were made to Egypt, Lebanon and the US.

In July-January 2007-08 fish exports (barring the EU markets) stood at $106 million as compared to $107 million (including exports to EU) in the same period of 2006-07. Exporters are, however, happy with the situation. "Had EU markets been tapped the July-January figures would have definitely crossed over $130 million," an exporter said.

Fish export during 2007-08 is likely to reach $150 million only as compared to $184 million in 2006-07, he added.

A spokesman of Pakistan Seafood Industries Association (PSIA), Akhlaq Hussain Abdi, blamed the government officials either sitting in the Economic Mission in Brussels or at the Marine Fisheries Department (MFD) in Pakistan for making the Pakistan's case weak.

He said that Economic Minister of Pakistan at Brussels Tariq Puri negotiated with the EU about the fate of country's seafood exports but to no avail.

Since then the draft report of the inspection carried out by the EU mission on January 27, 2007 was received by ministry of food, agriculture and livestock (Minfal) but the reply sent by the then DG MFD S.Q. Raza was found to be incomplete and not satisfactory.

Later, no more reply was sent to the EU with an action plan by Pakistan to remove the deficiencies pointed out in the report."

It is terrifying to realize that very little is being done to regain the EU market which once added $50-60 Million to Pakistan's revenue.

Affecting Factors in Pakistan's Fishery Sector

We managed to gather the following affecting factors from our research. The authenticity cannot be challenged because these factors have been changing very rapidly due to the nature of this business, global trade, imposition and lifting of bans, local instability and such.

Raw material

There is a variety of raw materials

The handling is not very efficient. All the problems start with the handling (e.g throwing and not using ice).

Traditional ways of making a catch are used.

The fish holds are very old and the conditions are highly dilapidated.

Fish damaged (skin, eye).

Small bits and by-catch of trawler fishing is used for production of fish meal.


No direct data on the number of fish farmers employed in this sector is available as fish farming in most parts of the country is carried out as an integral part of crop farming.

About 300,000 fishermen are directly employed in this sector

In addition, another 400,000 people are employed in secondary industries.

The labor is not trained and faces a language barrier in communicating. Also, since there is no training, mishandling of the catch is rampant.

The fishermen are not educated

No skills are required for the labor in this industry.

In this company, monthly wages are given to the labor. The labor is seasonal (Aug-Dec / Apr-Jan) and works on a contract basis. The labor is paid about Rs. 4000-5000 per month or Rs. 1.5/kg.

Poor health, nutrition and education contribute to low labour productivity.


Non-availability of intensive fish farming technology.

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

Five plants have upgraded their conditions and others are also undertaking changes in their facilities to comply with EU / international standards, but with little success.

4 to 5 are in Gawadar (the catch there is good)

At present 35,000 sail boats, row boats, trawlers and gill netters etc. are busy in fishing in the mainland and marine areas. (i.e. rivers, ponds, seashores and high seas).

Old machinery is used which adds to cost. However, new machinery is being imported from Singapore.

In Pakistan, various types of fishing gear are in use. They include shrimp trawl nets, gillnets, surrounding nets, bottom-set gillnets, beach seines, cast nets and bottom-set long-lines.

Plastic nets and surmai plastic nets are new gear which is used to target specific fish species.

The marine sector fishing fleet in 2001 consisted of 13 185 operational vessels, of which 2 564 were shrimp trawlers and 3 600 were gillnetters. The remaining 8 552 were motor-cum-sail boats with outboard engines.

Most fish markets have inadequate facilities, usually they lack cold storage facilities, have poor hygienic conditions and inadequate communication links.

We have limited transport and distribution facilities which effectively confines domestic marketing of marine fish to coastal areas for most of the year.

Some 23 freezing, 1 canning, 8 reduction plants and other curing yards were active in the Karachi area in 2001.

There is one large and one small freezing plant in Balochistan.


Pakistan is endowed with rich fishery potential.

Pakistan a coastline of about 1,120 km with a broad continental shelf and its Exclusive Economic Zone extends upto 200 n. miles from the coast.

About 13 000 fish farms have so far been established across Pakistan, the size of these farms varies considerably, however, the average farm size ranges form 5-10 ha.

There are four major fish harbours in Pakistan:

Karachi Fish Harbour, operated by Provincial Government of Sindh.

Karachi Fish Harbour handles about 90% of fish and seafood catch in Pakistan and 95% of fish and seafood exports from Pakistan.

Karachi fish harbour caters for the needs of 70-80 % of the local fishing fleet.

Korangi Fish Harbour, managed by Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock.

Pasni Fish Harbour, which is being operated by Provincial Government of Balochistan.

Pasni harbour is used by the fishermen in the Pasni area.

A fisheries harbour-cum-mini port has been constructed and is partly operation at Gwader.

Not enough land is available in the northern areas of Pakistan

Land, forest, water and wildlife resources have been degraded or destroyed.

Demand Conditions

Most of the marine catch is used domestically (413 138 t in 2001).

Local consumers prefer fresh fish to preserved products.

In recent months, mid 2007 until now, fish smuggling to Iran has affected local demand and supply conditions considerably, but we will not take them under consideration because the government statistics do not recognize the problem as a large one as yet.

Increases in consumption are particularly sensitive to income growth and per capita consumption has, in the absence of deliberate attempts to improve the marketing system, increased only by 300 g since 1976.

Per capita consumption of fish in Pakistan is the lowest in the world with only two kg per year compared to world average of 17 kg per year.

Except in the coastal areas of Pakistan, consumers prefer meat and poultry to fish.

All the imported fish are sold locally.

Internationally, we are in demand in the far east, Europe (in Holland for shrimps, Spain), the middle east, Thailand and Malaysia.

Fish produced from aquaculture are exported to Middle Eastern countries

We have competition from India which has a longer coastline and lower cost.

Bangladesh is also a competition since it has good quality fish.

Shrimp is in high demand internationally and therefore it is the main export item.

Fishmeal, fishmaws and shark fins are also exported, as well as growing quantities of chilled fish, for which the main markets are Singapore and the Gulf countries.

Palla fish is in high demand in Thailand and Burma.

Locally, the demand is very high, specially in the Punjab region. It is estimated that nearly hundred thousand of fresh fish are consumed yearly in the country.

Of the total marine fish harvested, about 32 per cent are consumed locally in the form of fresh fish or fish processed into fish meal.

Overall, there has been little demand and supply issues in the local industry, although international demand is not being met properly. This is often due to bans been imposed on Pakistan's exports due to poor handling and storage of fish.

Related and Supporting Industries

Transportation. We have limited transport and distribution facilities which effectively confines domestic marketing of marine fish to coastal areas for most of the year.

Insulated trucks are used which are mostly foreign owned. There are efforts to produce such trucks and add the storage facilities in trucks.

Cartons and plastic sheets are obtained on contracts. The suppliers are fixed and the orders are placed in advance according to the packaging requirement. The cartons and sheets are normally available in stock with the supplier so it takes only a day to deliver the required.

Manufacturers of gears, boats and engines are also crucial.

Most of the seafood companies have their own storage facilities, each store having a different temperature which is set according to the stage of fish processing. The costs of developing and maintaining such storage facilities is high due to high utilities charges, a number of companies are now outsourcing the storage of processed and unprocessed fish.

The nets and floats are imported from Korea, Japan, and Taiwan but some are manufactured in Karachi also

There are four different type of boats registered by the Directorate of Fisheries. Yakdar, Ranchan, Katti, Mechanized boats. These are manufactured locally.

SWOT Analysis


Marine and inland waters, fisher population and production trends x6956e62

Source: FAO Year Book on Fish Production - 1996

As evident from the above table, our fishing industry is better than Sri Lanka's in terms of marine production and inland production even though we have a smaller coastline.

There is sufficient requirement and demand for the products of our industry - locally as well as internationally.

The FAO states that Pakistan has more than 100 species of fish and nearly 25 of them have a fruitful commercial value.

The quality of our fish is also very good.

There are no customs problems for the industry.

Existing facilities for breeding and supply of fish and dissemination of technical know how for improving fish have a high potential of being strengthened.

Pakistan's industry workers are very experienced.


The main problems faced by Pakistan's fishing industry are technical, operational and regulatory in nature.

There is a lack of education and training of the labor.

Poor health, nutrition and education contribute to low labour productivity.

Land, forest, water and wildlife resources have been degraded or destroyed.

Smuggling, expecially after recently imposed bans.

Rapid population growth has placed increasing pressure on the rural resources.

Agricultural production is not keeping pace with population growth.

Our technological capabilities are not very good.

The processing units of the country are very old. Most of these units are either not operating or in very poor condition, and the products produced in these units were not in accordance with the requirements of the importing countries, particularly European countries.

The cost for this industry is high because of high transportation charges (diesel is very expensive) and high cost of electricity.

Power Outages

Poor links to markets limit farmer's ability to acquire sufficient capital to invest in draft animals, better implements and technologies that conserve the productivity of the land.

There is meager return for the investors.

There is a great dependence on a few species for exports, with very little value addition.

Some sizes of nets have been banned (hence small nets cause small fish to be caught).

There are no rebates for the industry (1.25% cut from revenue coming from abroad).

Corruption prevails in this industry.

Pakistan's fishing waters are termed as highly rich in marine life with a vast variety of species having commercial value. However, this potential is not reflected in the export earning from fisheries sector. This situation is mainly attributed to unorganized nature of private sector, lack of focus in Government policies and little institutional investment (in public and private sector projects) in this sector.

Most fish markets lack cold storage facilities, have poor hygienic conditions and inadequate communication links.

Some commercial farms are well built and managed, however, many more are in need of technical and management assistance.


Pakistan is endowed with large coastlines encompassing the most productive ocean in the world. The geographical setting of the country is ideal for the development of fish industry. There appears to be good prospect for further development of inland fish production, especially in the man-made reservoirs, waterlogged areas and the Indus delta region.

New markets like Egypt, Dubai and Malaysia are open for exploration.

If foreign trawlers are banned, it will give more opportunity to our local fishermen (Taiwan, Japan, China, Korea come into our fishing zone and make their catch).

The Federal Government provided experts and technical assistance to seafood establishments to improve their processing conditions in line with various EU directives (the European Union countries are major importers of seafood products from Pakistan). This is a golden opportunity for establishments to improve their conditions and quality to export seafood to European Union countries.

There is also room for value addition to increase our demand internationally.

The industry has $200 million to $2 billion export potential. Currently, we stand at $150 million. If proper measures are taken, we can easily reach the $200 million mark.

Good development prospects exist in the field of inland fisheries and aquaculture. The country has about 2 million hectares of freshwater bodies in the form of lakes, reservoirs and rivers, the fisheries potential of which is only slightly used at present.

Similarly, the development of brackish-water farming of shrimp in the creeks and estuaries of Sindh offer good prospects.

Export of seafood is facing many a problem notably among these are post harvest losses are high due to handling of fish catch on board and long voyage time.

The storage capacity is only 10,000 tons which is not sufficient to cater the future requirements.

Pakistan is exporter of raw material or semi processed fish / seafood.


Our marine life is being adversely affected due to pollution.

A report reveals that the stock of shrimps in Pakistan's sea limits is going to reduce with the passage of time. Thus, in order to meet the increasing demand, shrimps being caught recently were the mangroves with small eye nets, a species which is said to be very dangerous for the eco-system.

Other countries, like EU may impose more bans if we don't clean up our acts.

Most of the fishing effort is directed toward the shrimp resources, which are overly exploited.

India and Bangladesh are also posing a threat to our industry because of better quality and lower cost. Catering to the future needs of shrimps, India, Bangladesh and Iran have successfully entered into the field of shrimp farming. However, despite having an ideal land for shrimp farming, Pakistan is a bit late in this area.

Foreign trawlers are also a big threat to our anglers.


Despite several attempts by both the private and public sectors, fishing culture in the coastal areas of Pakistan has not yet been successful despite good potential. In almost all maritime countries, marine fishing has proliferated and became a major source of raw material for the export of seafood commodities. In the absence of a major fishery sector in Pakistan it has not been possible to compete with nations which have this alternative and dependable source of raw material for export. Below are the major issues that need to be addressed immediately:

1. Safety and health in the fishing industry

2. Pollution of Coastal Waters

3. Deep-sea Trawlers

4. Influential Sea- Lords

5. Detained Fishermen

6. Harmful Nets

7. Open Access to Fishing Livelihoods

8. Food Insecurity and Livelihood Reduction Threat

9. Sale of Islands

10. Shortage of fish feeds

Recommendations & Suggestions:

The government should provide compensation to the local fishermen who have suffered after depletion of the fish resources and the marine pollution in the result of deep-sea fishing. The revenue earned through fines on illegal fishing and on violation of other marine laws should be spent for the welfare of the fishermen.

There is an urgent need to have a comprehensive long-term National Fisheries Policy for sustainable management of fishery resources of the country. At present, fisheries is included within the Division of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock. The nature of fishery resources and the problems of the fisheries industry are very special, if not unique, and differ from those encountered in other agricultural sectors. It is essential to upgrade and strengthen fisheries administration.

Among the more important requirements for the future development of Pakistani fisheries is continued assistance to the Federal Marine Fisheries Department, particularly in the fields of resource assessment and management, statistics, fishing craft and gear technology, and human resources development.

The poor quality of many fishery products emphasizes the need for assistance in quality control and handling practices.

Pprogress at the primary production level implies a need to widen the distribution network and marketing by increasing domestic consumption of fish through promotional schemes and improved handling and preservation practices.

Human resources development and participatory research among scientists, extension workers and anglers should be established.

Indigenous species and undersized fish must be protected from capture.

Regional cooperation and networking to encourage cooperation in the region to resolve issues of common interests should be developed.

Efforts should be made to strengthen policies for the social uplift of fishers by providing basic amenities of life, education, health and security.

A database management system should be established.

Research and development institutions should focus on conducting studies aimed at improving native stocks through genetic selection and genetic engineering.

Effort should be made to breed non-commercial threatened fish.

Future Needs

Among the more important requirements for the future development of Pakistani fisheries is continued assistance to the Federal Marine Fisheries Department, particularly in the fields of resource assessment and management, statistics, fishing craft and gear technology, and human resources development. The poor quality of many fishery products emphasizes the need for assistance in quality control and handling practices. Finally, progress at the primary production level implies a need to widen the distribution network and marketing by increasing domestic consumption of fish through promotional schemes and improved handling and preservation practices.