Growth of fishing sector to boost food security in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The development of Pakistan’s fishing sector will help ensure food security in the country besides strengthening the national economy, WealthPK reports.
The sector’s development will also help in decreasing the demand for mutton, beef and poultry in Pakistan.
Faisal Iftikhar, Chairman of the Pakistan Fisheries Exporters Association, Karachi, told WealthPK that as a sub-sector of agriculture, the fishing industry contributed to the national economy and food security in the country. The fishing industry is directly related to food supplies, livelihoods for the coastal inhabitants, export earnings and economic growth.
“Although fishing in Pakistan contributes less than 1% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), it still plays a key role in economic growth by providing jobs to a sizable portion of the population living in underdeveloped Balochistan and Sindh provinces,” he said.
Faisal Iftikhar said that Pakistan’s fishing industry was predicted to be a big and developing sector in terms of exports. Fishing is a profitable profession that can bring significant foreign cash to a country.
The fishing industry in Pakistan is facing major challenges due to overfishing. Overfishing is negatively impacting the country’s marine ecosystems and the livelihoods of its fishing communities.
“Overfishing occurs when more fish are caught than the population that can be replaced through natural reproduction. There is a decline in fish population and loss of biodiversity in the ocean as a result of overfishing,” said Faisal Iftikhar.
He said that overfishing led to the depletion of fish stocks, resulting in lower catch rates. This decreased exports, foreign currency earnings, and income for fishermen. “Pakistan needs to control overfishing for quantity increase, as it will enable us to improve our export revenues,” he added.
The main cause of overfishing in Pakistan is a growing demand for seafood, coupled with the use of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing methods. These methods, such as the use of illegal nets and large-scale commercial fishing operations, are causing damage to coral reefs, mangrove forests and other critical habitats that provide shelter and food to fish.
“To address the problem of overfishing in Pakistan, a multi-faceted approach is needed. This should include measures to improve the management and governance of the country’s fishing industry, such as enforcing fishing quotas and adopting more sustainable fishing methods,” said Faisal Iftikhar.
He said that efforts should be made to improve the data collection and monitoring of the fish population so that the impacts of overfishing could be accurately assessed and addressed.
“Measures should also be taken to promote sustainable fishing methods, such as the use of fishing gear that reduces bycatch as well as damage to habitats. It will ensure the protection of essential habitats,” he told WealthPK.