Pakistan’s Fishery and Fishing Industry plays a significant part in the national economy. With a coastline of about 814 km and inland water bodies’ cumulative area of 8 million hectares, Pakistani seafood has a promising export potential, estimated at more than one million tonnes per year from the marine subsector alone. The commercially important resources include near 250 demersal fish species, 50 small pelagic fish species, 15 medium-sized pelagic species and 20 large pelagic fish species. In addition, there are also 15 commercial species of shrimp, 12 of cephalopods and 5 of lobster. Pakistan has two fishing seasons: the August to November season for catching shrimp, and October to June season for catching Fish. Marine fisheries account for about 60 percent of the total production, including both fish and shrimps. Shrimps account for only 15 percent of the production, but they are of much significance mainly due to their value and demand in foreign markets.
Pakistan’s fish and fish preparation exports went up by 20 percent in quantity and 21.35 percent in value during 2016 to 2017 due to price increase in world markets and higher landing of the catch. The average per tonne price of fish rose to $2,616 in 2016 to 2017 from $2,539 in 2015 to 2016. Data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) shows that fish exports reached $394 million (152,858 tonnes) in 2016 to 2017 as compared to $325m (127,910 tonnes) in 2015 to 2016. With the facility for exporting frozen seafood to China via land route, put in place since April 2017, coupled with quality certification, the growth trend is set to continue.
The Government of Pakistan is giving serious attention to its cold storage facilities and phytosanitary standards to increase export of fisheries products. There are 37 fish processing plants in Pakistan with the capacity to process 586 tonnes of fish and shrimp daily. Out of these, 27 plants are involved in production of frozen products, two in canning, and 8 for fishmeal processing.
Pakistani Fish and fishery products are processed and exported to over 50 countries including Vietnam, UAE, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Japan, China, Malaysia, Korea, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The European Union has also re-started import of Pakistani fish products since 2013. China has, in fact, emerged as the single biggest market for Pakistani shrimp, oyster, lobster and crab, and the second largest market for fish, with the combined market of six GCC countries on the top.
The Chinese market is set to expand. In a trial operation in January 2017, about 7.5 million tonnes of different varieties of fish and shrimp were exported from Gwadar to China’s Guangdong province via land route of Khunjerab. This has become a regular affair from April 2017.
Exporters expect Pakistan to boost seafood exports to $1 billion in three to five years by constantly augmenting production through effective implementation of ban on hauling of juvenile fish from designated breeding areas, promotion of modern inland fishing methods and incentivization of fish farming across the country.
This offers a very good opportunity to Filipino business community to explore joint ventures in this sector in Pakistan.