After a delay of six years, the European Union has lifted ban on import of fish products. Though partially by allowing only two Pakistan companies to export fishery products to the European countries, it’s still a great progress to fish farming in Pakistan.The EU had slapped ban on import of fish products from Pakistan in 2007 after EU inspectors found systemic enforcement failure and serious deficiencies in the sanitary quality of the fish.
Although marine resources are very rich, but most fish comes from marine capture rather than aquaculture farming. The limitation of advanced fishery tools and processing technology worsen the fish market. Thus the local government encourages fish farmers to develop fish farming after realizing the declining catches of marine resources.
Aquaculture is a rather recent activity in Pakistan and is still in its infancy; nevertheless there is immense potential for development of the sector after EU resumes Pakistan fish import. Despite its vast fresh, brackish and marine water resources only carp culture is practiced in ponds. In Pakistan, the fish fauna is rich but only seven warm water species and two cold water species are cultivated on a commercial scale. On a typical carp farm in Pakistan, the ratio of the warm-water species stocked on the farm is catla (10–20%), rohu (30–35%), mrigal(15–20%), grass carp(15–20%) and silver carp(15–20%). Intensive aquaculture has not yet been developed because of non-availability of low-cost feed and limited production expertise.
No commercial fish feeds are currently being produced in Pakistan, however, some experimental feeds have been prepared and utilized very effectively. Small pelagic caught as a by-catch from shrimp trawlers as well as fish offal are used for the production of fish meal on an industrial scale. Some progressive fish farmers are using fish meal and or trash fish in aquaculture operations but it is not a common practice.
Due to the lack of quality inputs in the country, the fry was purchased in Thailand, while two consignments of 44,000 lbs each of floating fish feed made with U.S. soybean meal were shipped from Idaho, USA.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is supporting the three-year effort that will assist Pakistan in using U.S. soybean meal to make high-protein fish feeds. The fish feed mills are currently trying to produce soy-based floating fish feed in Pakistan with imported U.S. soybean meal. The feed in Oryza Company is the first of its kind produced in the country.
Apart from the soybean meal, some local raw material can be also used to produce floating fish feed. The feed milling industry does not import feed grains, thus utilizing locally available/produced feeds grain. These include maize, broken rice, wheat, rice polishings and sorghum. As there are no commercial fish feeds produced in Pakistan currently so there is a larger market for people to process fish feed.
It can be easily traced that when cost-effective fish feed and advanced fishery methods adopted, the aquaculture market in Pakistan will be blooming.