Fishermen believe the resumption of seafood export to European markets will push shrimp and fish prices up by 25 percent at local market to make their catch lucrative. The six-year ban by the EU on Pakistan fisheries trade with its 27-nation bloc ended last month, which created a hope among the local fishermen that their catch value will grow.
“Indeed, the fisheries trade with EU will create competition at the local market and help the prices of shrimp, squid and cuttlefish soar,” said President, Sindh Trawlers Owners and Fishermen Association (Stofa), Habibullah Khan Niazi. But Director, Fishermen Co-operative Society (FCS), Asif Bhatti sees no economic changes in the business of poor fishermen no matter the EU seafood trade has restarted.
“The middle men role in purchase of catch from fishermen is a negative practice depriving them of their major earnings on a regular basis,” he blamed and demanded a fair price mechanism to end exploitative trend. “Pakistan is now able to export PUD, pink and brown shrimps, squid and cuttlefish to the EU,” according to CEO Akhlaq Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd, Akhlaq Hussain Abedi.
The competition as a result of fisheries trade with EU was likely to scale back the country’s export to Middle East, Far East and China, Niazi said, hoping the fisheries would witness a new upturn trend in seafood prices. “The EU ban costs Pakistan about dollars 300 million since 2007. Pakistan’s share of fisheries export to the EU markets was 26 percent of its total global seafood trade in 2007,” Fisheries officials said.
Pakistan made over dollars 300 million of seafood export particularly to China, Egypt, Far East and Middle East during last fiscal year, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. According to Marine Fisheries Department, till EU ban in 2007, Pakistan’s major shrimp market was Netherlands with 90 percent export share. Squid and cuttlefish were mainly exported to Italy and Spain. The sole fish had a great appeal in France and Germany.
In 2005-06, the country’s seafood export was to dollars 50.059 million to the EU, while its total annual fisheries trade stood at dollars 194 million, MFD says. EU re-enlisted two companies from Pakistan to export fisheries products to its market; A G Fisheries (Pvt) Ltd, and Akhlaq Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd.