Pakistan has a coast line of about 1,120 km which have remained under developed since independence in 1947. Over the last decade, sea food sector has emerged as a leading source of foreign exchange for cash stripped Pakistan. However the sector has largely remained out of focus for development by Government authorities.
Pakistan has total marine fishing area of more than 300,000 square kilometer covering Mekran Sindh coast and population living along this area is heavily involved in sea food industry for their routine livelihood. This area is highly rich in marine life and holds a vast variety of marine species. However, marine resources in the area remain to be exploited and developed.
Sea Food industry in Pakistan is mainly focused on two different markets for shrimps and fish products. Large quantity of fish is supplied at domestic level which is mostly transported without processing. Frozen or processed fish is supplied to only a few large departmental stores mostly in metropolitan cities.
On the other hand, Pakistan has a huge market at international level for fish and shrimps. Sea food sector presently exports reasonable quantity of its products and earns a handsome foreign exchange for Pakistan. These exports manly consist of processed or frozen fish and main destinations are Canada, USA, Denmark, and Gulf countries. However due to almost non-existent means of transport vast markets in Central Asia have remained un-explored.
Besides generating foreign exchange, this sector also provides jobs to more than 500,000 persons involved directly in fishing and more than 100,000 involved in processing of sea food. A high proportion of women are employed in shrimp processing plants. However there is a dire need to upgrade the existing fishing and processing facilities on urgent basis.
New and improved techniques for fishermen, adequate increase in processing and preparation of canned sea food items and exploring of new markets promises to increase the output of this sector many folds. Emphasis on marine surveys for fishery as well as research and development by Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock and Fisheries Development Commissioner can only make the industry projects grow at fast pace.
With concerted efforts coupled with proper incentives, this sector needs is expected to develop as a major source of sea food for western countries as well as Central Asia and Afghanistan.