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July 21, 2019

Seafood exports decline 2.72pc in FY19 on catch curbs in Balochistan


July 21, 2019

KARACHI: Pakistan’s seafood exports have recorded a decline both in quantity and value during FY19 due to a slowdown in fishing activities on the coast of Balochistan from November to January, exporters said.

According to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, during FY19 (July 2018-June 2019), exports dropped 2.72 percent to $438.735 million against $451.021 million during FY18.

In quantity terms, exports were recorded 0.71 percent down at 195,523 tons from 196.927 tons exported during the same period last year.

Pakistan’s fish and fish preparations’ exports increased by 18.66 percent to 15,213 tons in June 2019 against 12,821 tons exported in June last year. On value terms, exports remained 18.95 percent up in June 2019 to $32.168 million against $27.043 million in June 2018. Compared to May 2019, seafood exports remained down by 44.62 percent from $58.081 million in May 2019. “This happened because seafood fishing season remained closed in June on account of breeding season,” said one stakeholder.

“Pakistan was posting 20 percent increase every year till FY18,” said Captain Akhlaque Hussain, an exporter. “But, this year it decreased 2.72 percent, which is actually a decline of 23 percent looking at our past record.”

He said the federal government had announced deep sea fishing policy in October 18, which invited protests from the people of Balochistan. “Marine Fisheries Agency had started seizing fishing boats near Balochistan coast and fishing remained down for around three months till January 2019. Exports could reach $540 million if the catch had not been curbed,” Hussain added.

Pakistan’s fish and fish preparations buyers include China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Egypt, Middle East, UK, Thailand, South Korea, Bangladesh etc. Of which, China is one of the largest buyers.

One stakeholder said that quality seafood stocks were depleted in Pakistani waters because of overfishing and use of destructive and unlawful nets.

Pakistan exports mostly lower rates to China, whereas the ban from European Union was lifted from two factories only after political pressure, as the EU had not inspected the factories. “Thus, revival of exports to EU had no significant impact over Pakistan’s total seafood exports,” he said.

Pakistan’s fish and fish preparations fetch one of the lowest prices in the region. “Our prices show that we export more fish meal and our prices are lower than quality fish meal price. We are going behind low quality exports,” said one exporter.

Pakistan’s seafood export has been resumed to EU, but only one factory, out of the approved two factories, was exporting to EU. Only two factories were approved by the authority. However, prices of those exports to the EU remain low.

According to Marine Fisheries Department, there are around 150 fish and seafood exporting firms in Pakistan, of which 35 operate in the premises of Karachi Fisheries Harbour.

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