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Re-vamped Fish Policy to Rejuvenate Export Market

PAKISTAN - The Government of Pakistan plans to increase fish and shrimp exports to $1 billion from the present $200 million in six years through implementation of the first National Fisheries Policy.

The new policy was announced in the shadow of a recent EU ban on Pakistani seafood imports, mainly due to poor sanitary conditions.

Pakistan's Government announced details of the National Fisheries Policy 2007 with a $33.4 million (Rs 2 billion) package to significantly increase fish and shrimp production. The aim is to increase fish and shrimp exports to $1 billion in six years from the present $500 million.

While the final draft of the new policy is yet to be released, the Minister for Food, Agriculture and Livestock (MinFAL) said that the Pakistan plans to increase the national fish supply through a public-private partnership, based on a sustainable increase in both inland and marine fisheries production and resolving post harvest issues.

The government will establish model fish farms and fish markets, set up new or renovate existing fish and shrimp hatcheries, and introduce a fish cage-culture system in reservoirs and dams.

On Board

It has also proposed a Fisheries Development Board that included representatives from the public and private sectors. The Board would provide 20 per cent financing for the establishment of fish farms while 80 percent funding would be provided by the private sector. Eleven model farms would be established on a total area of 1,175 acres.

A training center for fishermen at Gawader, Balochistan is also planned and a Total Quality Management System would be introduced. The key aim is to enhance export competitiveness and technical advances thus increases in Pakistan's reputation, and market share, within the international seafood market.

Currently, representatives of the seafood industry are "waiting to see" stance, how the details of the new policy are received. Their greatest concern is resolution is the EU ban on Pakistani seafood.

Seafood exports are down 39 per cent and the industry is in crisis. The EU Ban is regarded as the major contributor to the down turn and the livelihoods of thousands of fishermen and approximately 0.5 million people whose work depends on the fishery sector is at stake.

Ellen Hardy

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