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Pakistan's under utilized economic assets

Updated on January 26, 2018


Nature has gifted Pakistan with rich Mangrove forests, spread from Sir Creek to Karachi covering an estimated area of 260,000 hectors. However on the Balouchistan coast, there are three pockets of mangrove forests situated in Miani Hor, Khor Kalmat and Gwadar bay covering an area of 18,350 acres. Mangrove trees and shrubs, including ferns and palms, are found along coastlines in tropical and subtropical countries. Their main characteristic is that they can tolerate salt and brackish water environments. Thus mangrove forests can be exploited using direct methods such as provision of fire wood, fodder, honey, fishery etc and indirect advantages can be accrued in the form of wild life, nursery grounds for juvenile of fish/shrimps, and filters pollutants etc.

Mangrove forests are available in abundance in Pakistan providing rich resources of breeding grounds to fin fish as well as shrimps. Mangrove forests have multiple usages that accrue many direct and indirect advantages. There is a need to regulate Mangrove forests facilities (like utility as grazing ground) under some administrative set up so as toto provide sustenance of the forests. Mangrove areas are suitable for aquaculture of fish and shrimp. Semi arid and arid areas adjacent to Mangrove forests can also be used for making ponds within mangrove habitats to yield fish and shrimps. Mangrove forests are the lifeline of Pakistan’s economy and therefore should be used without being harmed. Projects like honey bee farming would enhance their exploitation for the benefit of population. The above mentioned activity can generate jobs for the local population and can greatly contribute in development of the area.


The size of the fishery resources within the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is unknown. However, the results of several fishing surveys undertaken with the assistance of foreign research vessels clearly indicated the presence of untapped fish stocks (demersal and pelagic) beyond the range of traditional grounds. The utilization of these stocks would require research and assessment, as well as the introduction of suitable fishing technology. The fishery sector plays an important role in Pakistan’s economy. The sector engaged a labor force of about 356500,out of which about 38 % were in marine fisheries. The export value of fish in 2002-03 was Rs.7867 million. In Pakistan, various types of fishing gear are in use. They include shrimp trawl nets, gillnets (ruch), surrounding nets (katra net), bottom-set gillnets (thukri), beach seines, cast nets and bottom-set long-lines. Shrimp trawling is prohibited along the Balochistan coast. Along the Sindh coast, a simple type of purse seine (katra) fishery has been developed in the past twenty years. It targets inshore stocks of small pelagics, for the fishmeal industry, utilizing open boats fitted with 2 to 4 long-tailed outboard engines. Plastic nets and surmai plastic nets are new gear which is used to target specific fish species. However if Pakistan wants to achieve better production in fisheries, it will have to acquire new technology of catching fish. The use of trawling gear is obsolete technology.

Deep sea fishing.

The marine fishing in Pakistan is being done under two categories i.e. coastal water fishing and deep sea fishing. The coastal fishing is restricted up to 12 NM from shore under the jurisdiction of Sindh and Balouchistan governments. The area beyond territorial limits for deep sea fishing is divided into two zones i.e Zone 1(between 12-35NM) and zone 2 (between 35 to 200 NM) which falls under the jurisdiction of federal government. Deep sea fishing started in 1982 under a policy of joint venture. It was abolished in 1986. However the policy came back under the garb of fishery harvest policy by Pak flag vessels. In 1995 another policy of deep sea resources was announced. It has been claimed that the objective of these policies is to transfer deep sea fishing technology to Pakistan and to develop its own deep sea fleet. In actuality the corrupt bureaucracy at provincial and federal level has been earning personal gains/profits and continues to do the same till to date. Recently the deep sea trawlers have been allowed to do fishing as close to coast as desired. The limit was recommended to safeguard the interests of the local fishermen who do not have sophisticated fishing gear. Unfortunately the existing deep sea trawling under license is doing harm to our fish resource as it wipes out species of fish, destroys huge quantity of fish and causes loss of foreign exchange by incorrectly reporting the type/quantity of fish catch. In the past 20 stern trawlers and 10 Long Liners were issued fishing licenses. These vessels were required to come to Karachi and export their catch from there. However they either go to Dubai, Muscat, Abu Dhabi or even off load into a mother ship, thereby depriving the country of valuable foreign exchange. The deep sea vessel owners have recently approached the Gwadar port authority member to allow them to use Gwadar harbor and its facilities.


Fish farming is practiced in the Punjab, Northwest Frontier and Sindh Provinces on a limited scale, where species such as trout, common carp, grass carp, silver carp and other carp species have been introduced, alongs idethe native Indian carp.
Inland fisheries and aquaculture have received increasing attention in recent years and the government has established several fish hatcheries and training facilities for fish farmers in the country.


Some countries have parks of windmills that stand in shallow waters off shore whereas some nations use shore based land turbines to produce electricity. In Pakistan, there is shortage of electricity; hence windmills can be installed to generate electricity to population living along the coast. India has a large array of windmills along Gujarat coast to meet its electricity requirements. Initially 70 wind mills have been installed through Pakistan Council of Renewable energy Technologies a few months ago. Four villages have already been electrified including Goth Mohammad. This has benefited the locals as it has saved them from burning kerosene oil at night. Moreover incidents of snake bite have reduced to zero due to availability of light at less than one rupee per unit. It has been revealed that land based turbines technology has also been acquired. Additionally by electrification of four villages the cost on purchase of kerosene oil has reduced from Rs.10 million to Rs.1.2 million only. In addition to these villages the wind mills are feasible for generating electricity along Badin/ Sindh coast as the wind is persistent from South West. However due to non availability of Wind data and non persistent South Westerly wind, it may not be feasible to install shore based wind mills all along the coast of Balouchistan.

However land based turbines are called eyesores by some critics as they create difficulty for the local populace. Norway has developmental plans to install a prototype windmill at sea by 2019 at an estimated cost of 150 million Norwegian Crowns. Japan and USA are also working on developing such windmills that will be installed in 200-700 m of water. These non polluting windmills could supply power to coastal cities or to offshore oil and gas platforms anywhere along the coast of Sindh. The prototype will be made of steel and concrete tube about 200 m high with 80 m jutting above the surface of sea. The rotor blades will be 60 m long. Either shallow water or deep water windmills could be installed along the Sindh coast. However these will have higher installation and maintenance cost. Since Pakistan does not have fossil fuel or nuclear fuel, it should attempt to gain this simple technology to meets it future expanding electricity requirement.


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    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 2 months ago from Mississauga, ON

      Nice article, Ali!

      There are disadvantage of sea windmills in that they can make our shorelines ugly, severely impact shallow water eco-systems and waterfowls, disturb fishing and eco-tour boats navigation, etc.