Turning KP’s water bodies into fish farms faces hurdles: WealthPK

ISLAMABAD: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has at least 32 small and large water reservoirs which could be turned into hefty fish farms, but lack of coordination among the federal and provincial departments comes as a big hurdle in this regard.
Tarbela Dam and Gomal Zam Dam are among the big reservoirs in the province.
Talking to WealthPK, KP’s Director of Fisheries, Said Zubair Ali, expressed his frustration with the bureaucratic obstacles preventing the use of water reservoirs for purposes other than power generation. For example, the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), a federally operated government body, has exclusive rights to the Tarbela reservoir and does not allow other departments to work there due to security concerns. Similar situations exist at other sites.
‘’Unlike big reservoirs, almost all small dams fall under the administrative control of the irrigation department. While the fisheries department has fishing rights in these dams, it is not allowed to erect any physical infrastructure or cages for farming. A better collaboration between provincial and federal departments could help utilize these water resources for socio-economic development,’’ Zubair said.
‘’Under the public-private partnership, cages can be installed there for both large and small-scale fish farming. Efforts and amendments are needed to fix all the inter-departmental issues once and for all so that these national assets could be used for the collective benefit of the country. Framing a National Policy is very important to achieve this goal. It is also important for the communities related to fisheries to earn a sustainable livelihood,’’ he further said.
“Using all these water reservoirs for farming multiple types of aquatic edible animals, the fisheries sector will get a boost. It will not only enhance aquatic food exports but also help meet the national requirements of food and nutrition. To strengthen the fisheries sector, it is very important to develop new fish farms and hatcheries. Pakistan can rope in China to revolutionize its fisheries sector,’’ added Zubair Ali.
Revenue generation from fish and other aquatic-food markets amounted to USD611.80 billion app in 2023 at the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.3% and is expected to improve at a CAGR of 6.23% by the year 2027.
Day by day, the fisheries sector all over the world is becoming more and more profit-oriented. Every year, about 200 million tonnes of fish are harvested through farming and wild catch. By improving the fishing practice, Pakistan can earn a handsome foreign exchange from its export in fresh, frozen, or another value-added forms. –INP