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Here Is Why Pakistan Should Invest More In Aquaculture Fish Farming

Aquaculture is a kind of fish farming that includes the full cycle of marine life production. In this business, the fish farmers would cultivate and harvest both aquatic animals and aquatic plants for human consumption. Since governments all over the world have started noticing that wildlife marine stock has started to decline due to overfishing, they are encouraging a shift from wildlife fishing to aquaculture. Aquaculture, or fish farming in marine environment, is considered a sustainable option to save marine life as well as to generate revenue.

This form of fish farming can serve as a good and sustainable source of income for low-skilled labour force. Pakistan, like the other south Asian countries, has both seaports and rivers that provide a suitable environment for aquaculture. In 2016, the combined yield of captured wild fisheries for Pakistan, India and Bangladesh was reported at 7.2 million metric tonnes, compared with a figure of 8.06 metric tonnes for aquaculture produce. Unfortunately, however, Pakistan’s contribution in this only stood at 4.36 percent. On the whole, also, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have a minimal contribution for the fisheries industries, if we compare the data with China and Far East Asian countries. In 2016, China reported a total fishery production of 81.5 million metric tons.

Pakistan is blessed with the largest irrigation system in the world, which can be utilised to build ponds and lakes for fish farming easily. Pakistan has rivers in Sindh and Punjab, and these, with the new Gwadar port coastline, offer a huge potential to provide further opportunities for fish farming in marine environment and freshwater reservoir. Pakistani government should seriously consider investing in aquaculture and providing support to fish farming industry. There is a large possibility of increasing output because the business environment is very suitable in Pakistan.

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In 2020, when we are faced with the pandemic situation, in which many SME companies are struggling for survival, millions have lost their jobs, and people have reduced their spending except on essentials, there is a great opportunity to enter this industry to the benefit of both the farmer as well as the community at large. Fish farmers can produce more fish for food production companies or supply can be increased for fresh fish consumption in the food service sector.

The fishing industry only employs about 1 percent of the total labour force in Pakistan. Generally, these fishermen belong to lower classes and they survive on income generated from daily sales. If these fishermen are provided with easy loans to start a fish farm and the provincial government starts providing free courses for learning techniques to cultivate and harvest fish for regular income, it could greatly help in erasing poverty among fishermen and generate a sustainable income for them. These fishermen also face major challenges due to natural disasters like earthquakes, monsoon and floods, since they live in groups near the coastal lines or on farms created close to the rivers. These fishermen need proper trainings for stocking and harvesting the ponds correctly. This will help them to reduce the losses while running fish farms in a safe environment.

Some of the best practices in the global fish farming industry are careful planning of ponds, where the continuous flow of water is available to get rid of fish waste. In the Philippines, farmers cultivate live fish stock inside rice farms, which is an efficient method to deal with the scarcity of freshwater and having a greater output. Rice is one of the major crops in Pakistan. If we apply the same technique in Pakistan on wider range, we can increase the output of fish farms in a freshwater reservoir and farmers can earn extra income.

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We should do our best to utilise the natural resources that are available to us in order to raise our country’s population out of poverty and to put Pakistan truly on the path of progress.

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Naya Daur