Even though Pakistan in general and Sindh in particular, has great potential in fisheries and aquaculture to be developed as an industry, yet proper policy to develop fisheries as an industry is a dream come true situation.  With little attention, protein need of 0ver 80 per cent of masses may be fulfilled and consumption of health-supporting white meat (fish meant) may help reduce cardiac ailments too.

“Eating fish twice a week may keep your heart healthy”

The human body requires healthy food. Fish meat is highly valuable for its contents. Fish is a low-fat high-quality protein filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D and B2 (riboflavin). It is rich in calcium and phosphorus (a basic requirement for healthy bones) and a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium.

Due to white meat, the fishery plays a significant role in the national economy. It employs about 300,000 fishermen directly. Besides, another 400,000 people are employed in supplementary industries. It is also a major source of export earnings. In July-May 2002-03 fish and fishery products valued at the US, $ 117 million were exported from Pakistan. Federal Government is responsible for the fishery of the Exclusive Economic Zone of Pakistan. Besides, it is also responsible for making policies, inter-provincial coordination, planning, research, quality control, training, exploratory fishing, stock assessment, fisheries management, fleet improvement, data collection, and export etc.

Pakistan is blessed with rich fishery potential. It is in the northern part of the Arabian Sea and has a coastline of about 1,120 km with a broad continental shelf and its Exclusive Economic Zone extends up to 200 n. miles from the coast. There are about 16,000 fishing boats in the coastal area of Pakistan which operate in shallow coastal waters as well as in offshore areas. These fishing boats undertake fishing trips lasting for a few hours to weeks depending upon the type of fishing. Total production from inland and marine waters is approximately 0.60 M. tons.

Aquaculture and Pakistan

In the province of Sindh, Thatta & Badin Districts are highly suitable for aquaculture. Vast land areas with ample water supplies, suitable soil, extensive irrigation and drainage networks, perfect climate, temperature, and conditions make this area highly suitable for the culture of several fish species.

Presently fish farming in Sindh is carried out entirely on a low scale basis only in two districts i.e. Thatta and Badin. There are scattered fishponds in district Sanghar, but too below the scope. With the vast resources at hand, if utilized properly, Sindh can be one of the leaders in the aquaculture industry in Pakistan, but this requires awareness and encouragement. There is a dire need to understand the basic requirements for Aquaculture in Pakistan. Several thousand acres of land suitable for aquaculture is available in the Thatta & Badin districts for Rs. 20,000 – Rs 30, 000 per acre (value may vary with increasing value in US$. The soils are nutrient-rich, slightly alkaline. Water bodies that already exist are habitat to highly valuable fauna and flora required as feedstuff of herbivorous and carnivorous fishes.


Water Resources

Pakistan is blessed with the most extensive networks of irrigation canals. Surface water of good quality and in aquaculture is available for 10/11 months of the year with an ideal value of 7.5 and temperature ranging between 28 to 37 C. Biotic and abiotic factors are highly supportive of fish farming. However, due to recent climatic changes, irrigation water is in short supply since 1999 and hence the stress to conserve water by changing over from extensive farming towards more intensive culture methods.

The government sector is ready to support fish farming. Loans are easily approved, and basic permission is easily granted by the concerned Fisheries Department. Moreover, water bodies in Thatta & Badin Districts are virtually pollution-free, labour is cheap, available at Rs.5,000 to Rs. 7,000 per month. The temperature and weather conditions are favourable for optimum growth rates for 10 months of the year.

Despite encouraging factors, yet fisheries and aquaculture in lurking in the lake for certain facilities such as lack of hatchery that can help introduce conventional and genetically improved, faster growing and disease-resistant fish species such as Tilapia, Rohu, Mrigal, and Catla.

There is a lack of infrastructure including a feed mill. There is not a single feed mill for the aquaculture industry in Pakistan. Fry, fingerling and sometimes grow out fish are fed with balls made from rice bran and cottonseed cake. Most fish feeds can be prepared locally for less than 50% of the cost of imported feeds. Besides, this will help provide jobs to native masses.

Kenjhar, with a 50 km area with 25/35 feet depth is one of the largest lakes of Pakistan near Thatta. This lake may be ideal for cage Aquaculture for trout fish. Besides, Pakistan has an 1120 km long coastal line covering Badin, Thatta, Karachi, Pasni, Gwadar and Ormara with great potential for brackishwater aquaculture and mariculture in the Thatta District of Sindh. There have been few attempts to culture shrimp but have not succeeded as the basic requirements for shrimp culture, feed and hatchery are non-existent in our country and imported feeds are very expensive and shrimp are difficult to acclimatize, and often high mortalities are reported.

World picture

FAO report published in 2018 concluded that the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 highlights the critical importance of fisheries and aquaculture for the food, nutrition and employment of millions of people, many of whom struggle to maintain reasonable livelihoods. The report further concluded that total fish production in 2016 reached an all-time high of 171 million tons, of which 88 per cent was utilized for direct human consumption, thanks to relatively stable capture fisheries production, reduced wastage and continued aquaculture growth. This production resulted in a record-high per capita consumption of 20.3 kg in 2016. Since 1961 the annual global growth in fish consumption has been twice as high as population growth, demonstrating that the fisheries sector is crucial in meeting FAO’s goal of a world without hunger and malnutrition. While annual growth of aquaculture has declined in recent years, significant double-digit growth is still recorded in some countries, particularly in Africa and Asia. The sector’s contribution to economic growth and the fight against poverty is growing. Strengthened demand and higher prices increased the value of global fish exports in 2017 to USD 152 billion, 54 per cent originating from developing countries.

On the other hand, the Pakistan Economic Survey 2017-18 estimated that during the first eight months of the fiscal year 2017-18, total marine and inland fish production was estimated at 482,000 metric tons, out of which 338,000 metric tons was from marine waters and the remaining catch came from inland waters.

Whereas the fish production for the same period of the fiscal year 2016-17 was estimated to be 477,000 metric tons of which 332,000 metric tons was from marine and the remaining was produced by the inland fishery sector.

During eight months of 2017-18, a total of 108,262 metric tons of fish and fishery products were exported. Pakistan’s major buyers are China, Thailand, Malaysia, the Middle East, Sri Lanka and Japan.

Pakistan earned $264m, while the export for 2016-17 of fish and fishery products was 89,032 metric tons which earned $239m. The export of fish and fishery products has increased by 21.6pc in quantity and 10.5pc in value during 2017-18. Developing countries supplied slightly more than 50%. Shrimp is the main fish commodity traded in value terms, accounting for about 19% of the total value of internationally traded fishery products. (FAO).

In 2001, more than 80% of the total world import value was concentrated in developed countries, in Japan, the USA and several EU countries. Japan has remained the major importer accounting for about 23% of the total import value. USA was the second main importer with a share of 17%, followed by Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and the UK. (FAO).

About 74 per cent of world fish production is used for direct human consumption, whereas the remainder (about 26 per cent) is utilized for various non-food products, mostly for conversion to fishmeal and oil. Pakistan has a total coastline of 1,090 km and a total fishing area of approximately 300,000 sq. km. Pakistan’s fishing waters are termed as highly rich in marine life with a vast variety of species having commercial value. However, this potential is not reflected in the export earnings from the fisheries sector. The exports of “Fish and Fish Preparation” were at $134.5 million (with a volume of 93,214 tons) in 2002-03. (EPB)

Pakistan’s exports of fishery products stand at about 0.25% of world exports. A rough estimate based on maximum sustainable yield figures, existing value addition, and foreign benchmarks, puts our total export potential from this sector at around US$ 1.0 billion from existing natural resources. If we include the high potential area of aquaculture, our fisheries sector can yield even higher export earnings.

Pakistan’s domestic consumption is termed as one of the lowest in the world, at 1.6 kg per person per year (compared to a world average of 16.2 kg per person per year). Hence, most of the produce is exported. There is a great dependence on a few species for exports, with very little value addition. Most of the fish catch is from marine sources, which comprises about 70% of total fish exports. Pakistan exports fish mainly to Europe, the US, Japan, and Middle Eastern countries. On the coast of Pakistan, there are more than 30 species of shrimps, 10 species of crabs, 5 species of lobster and about 70 commercial species of fish including sardine, Hilsa, Shark, Mackerel, Butterfish, Pomfret, Sole, Tuna, sea bream, Jewfish and Catfish, Shark, and Eel. Marine fishing is undertaken from right beyond the coast to 200 nautical miles into the sea.

Fish Harbors of Pakistan:

Nature has blessed Pakistan with highly productive fish harbors Pakistan. Karachi Fisheries Harbor is being operated by the Provincial Government of Sindh and handles about 90% of fish and seafood caught in Pakistan and 95% of fish and seafood exports from Pakistan. Korangi Fish Harbor, on the other hand, is being managed by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Livestock. Pasni Fish Harbor is being operated by the Provincial Government of Baluchistan and Gwadar Fish Harbor is under the control of the Federal Ministry of Communication.

The Department of Livestock & Fisheries can embark upon novel projects on fish processing to bring improvement in fish export, but little has been done even though Pakistani fish is exported to nearly 50 countries around the globe. Unfortunately, much attention has been focused on Agri-farming, farming of livestock animals i.e., sheep, goat, cattle, and buffalo including poultry. There is huge potential in fisheries and aquaculture, which has been largely ignored. 

Health Benefits:

Published data based on experimentation is enough to convince that fish is a highly healthy health food, for, Fish Is High in Important Nutrients including high-quality protein, iodine and various vitamins and minerals. Fatty types of fish are also high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Fish May Lower Your Risk of Heart Attacks and Strokes. Eating at least one serving of fish per week has been linked to a reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes, two of the world’s biggest killers. Fish Contains Nutrients That Are Crucial During Development. Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is essential for the development of the brain and eyes.


Fish is a source of vitamin D which is highly good for healthy bones. Fish consumption is also linked to a reduced risk of autoimmune diseases, including type-1 Diabetes. Eating fish has been linked to a reduced risk of type 1 diabetes and several other autoimmune diseases. Fish May Help Prevent Asthma in Children. studies show that children who eat more fish have a lower risk of developing asthma. Fish may protect your vision in old age. People who eat more fish have a much lower risk of developing macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision impairment and blindness.

Fisheries and Job Market

Fisheries and aquaculture have a great role in supporting farm families and the national economy of Pakistan. Most of the population of the coastal areas of Sindh and Baluchistan depend on fisheries for livelihood. It is also a major source of export earnings. Nearly 16000 families are involved in the fish industry in coastal areas alone. Indirect benefits are yet to be compiled. The government should pay more attention to the development of the fish industry as it can support family income and maybe an excellent source of earning foreign capital.

Fisheries and aquaculture have a great role in supporting farm families and the national economy of Pakistan.