PESHAWAR: Pakistan is endowed with fisheries and aquatic resources that have significant potential to make a bigger contribution to economic growth and social development. At present, fisheries contribute modestly to the national and local economy. The underlying potential of Pakistan’s fisheries and aquatic resources is not reflected in the current production, growth, and value. The sector has much more to offer in terms of boosting export revenues, creating decent jobs, supporting livelihoods in coastal communities, improving domestic nutrition and food security, and closing Pakistan’s significant economic gender inequality.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations held a National Symposium on Fisheries and Aquaculture for Food and Livelihoods in Pakistan, which was followed by a workshop with all the relevant sector specialists and stakeholders of fisheries and aquaculture from the government, provinces, trade organizations, and the development sector, says a press release.

The Government of Pakistan recognizes these opportunities and has prioritized contribution of the fisheries sector towards these goals. The development of fisheries sector is a key priority within the country’s poverty reduction strategy as well. Recently, the government has launched a comprehensive 309 billion rupee.  “Agriculture Emergency Program”, under which three of its thirteen development projects would be executed in fisheries which include projects on incubating shrimp farming, cage culture for fish species and trout culture.

Developing the fisheries sector not only provides sustenance but also enhances exports. Speaking at the event, FAO Representative in Pakistan Mina Dowlatchahi said that FAO has been helping the Government of Pakistan with the fish stock in the country, as a number of communities along the coast depend their livelihoods on fisheries and aquaculture. These two sectors are high potential for livelihood, employment, decent work for men, women and youth, providing food security. There is high potential for sustainable development in the sector and attain the SDG for life under water.

The event was attended by the Federal Secretary Maritime Affairs Rizwan Ahmed, and Secretary Ministry of Food Security and Research, along with fish traders, FAO facilitated knowledge and information sharing to adopt sustainable practices to boost the Fisheries and Aquaculture in Pakistan. Through this consultative process, control of regulated fish was discussed, and coordination of line departments with private sector representatives was promoted, encouraging the dialogue for maritime fisheries. The participants also discussed the challenges faced by the sector, and government initiatives to counter those while introducing innovative In – Pond raceway system technology to improve aquaculture production. Challenges post-harvest and business potential for value chain development were also discussed.

The symposium marked the launch of the two Technical Cooperation Programmes (TCP) and brought together relevant stakeholders from the government (national and provincial), private sector, academia, and international and local technical experts to generate a constructive discourse on the broader topic of developing fisheries and aquaculture sector, which is a key government priority. Both the TCPs are in line with the government’s vision and aim to facilitate the broader developments taking place within this sector.

These two TCPs will be implemented with assistance from Ministry of Food Security and Research and Ministry of Maritime Affairs.