KARACHI, Nov 21 (APP): Caretaker Sindh Chief Minister Justice (R) Maqbool Baqar on Tuesday said that seafood products, ranging from fish and shrimp to crabs and squid, including frozen and fresh seafood, canned goods, and value-added items like breaded fish fillets, can find their way to international markets if we ensure our adherence to quality standards, and the integration of technology is ensured.
This he said while speaking at a seminar organized by the National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA) to commemorate World Fisheries Day at Bahria University.
He said that he was happy for the professionals and policymakers on this significant occasion of World Fisheries Day 2023, marked by the theme “Conservation through Collaboration: Developing Fishing Communities.” Today, I am privileged to share this moment with you, a gathering that highlights the heartbeat of our celebration—the vibrant and resilient fishing communities along the Pakistan coast.
The CM said that the fishermen’s communities were not merely guardians of the sea; they embody the essence of our cultural heritage, preserving traditions that have been cherished and passed down through generations. “As we come together to observe World Fisheries Day, it is only fitting that we shine a spotlight on these communities, placing them at the forefront of our discussions,” he said.
Baqar said that Pakistan was blessed with a coastline stretching over 1,000 km and an expansive Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covering 290,000 sq. km, including the extended continental shelf. “This endowment positions Pakistan with significant potential for the development of the Blue Economy,” he said and added our marine fishing activities were concentrated along the coasts of Sindh and Balochistan, constituting 30 per cent and 70 per cent of Pakistan’s total coastal area, respectively.
The CM said that for periods, fishing has been a vital source of sustenance for communities along the Indus River and the Arabian Sea. “Our waters harbour approximately 70 commercial fish species,” he disclosed and said that the fisheries sector not only significantly contributes to our economy but also forms the backbone of livelihoods for our coastal communities.
Baqar said that seafood products, ranging from fish and shrimp to crabs and squid, including frozen and fresh seafood, canned goods, and value-added items like breaded fish fillets, find their way to international markets. “Our key export destinations include the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and South Korea. Remarkably, Pakistan’s seafood export reached an all-time high, hitting $496 million in 2022-23,” he disclosed and added that the growth potential was substantial.
Access to international markets, adherence to quality standards, and the integration of technology such as fishing crafts equipped with modern fishing tools such as GPS tracking, sonar, and data analytics can enhance fishing efficiency, traceability, and resource management, the CM suggested. He added that investing in research and development for new species, improved breeding techniques, and sustainable aquaculture practices was paramount.
CM said that there was ample room for expansion in the processing and value-addition sector, encompassing filleting, freezing, canning, and the production of various fish-based products. Pakistan’s fisheries and aquaculture sector are pivotal in providing livelihoods for coastal communities and ensuring the nation’s food security.
Baqar said that challenges such as overfishing, habitat degradation, and regulatory gaps persist, and concerted efforts were underway to enhance governance, including the implementation of licensing and environmental impact assessments. “By embracing sustainable practices and strategic investments, we can unlock the full potential of Pakistan’s fisheries and aquaculture sector, fostering both economic prosperity and the well-being of our coastal populations,” he said.
The CM concluding his speech said that this seminar would play a vital role in discussing the challenges and suggesting policy gaps. Appreciating the NIMA, the CM said that the
Sindh government would fully support the implementation of the recommendations coming out of this seminar.