The seasonal slump in seafood catch has scaled down fishing activities, forcing the fishermen to abort their deep sea trawling as fears grew that rising operational costs may lower their earnings. “Over the past one week, the prices of seafood catch have dropped on the export-oriented local market,” said fishermen on Monday, but blamed the traders and exporters for market sluggishness.
However, traders denied such an impression, saying that the fishermen and crewmembers have deliberately moored their boats at the Karachi coast in preparation for Eidul Azha. “Many boat captains and crewmembers are on leave and have left for their homes in other cities of the country to celebrate Eid there,” they said. Exporters are unsure of the key reasons behind the market stagnation, saying the “reasons are still unknown to us, which need to be ascertained and addressed to bring back fishing activities to normality”.
“In this season [fall] the catch of seafood has always witnessed a little bit of reduction, as catch landing is lower because trawlers are coming back to the harbour,” said the Patron of Sindh Trawlers Owners and Fishermen Associations (Stofa), Sarwar Siddiqui.
He said that fishing vessels are also returning to moor as Eidul Azha is coming this weekend and everyone would like to celebrate the annual festival with their families. Of them many are living in cities other than Karachi. “In this season it happens. I cannot say how long the sluggishness of the market will continue,” he said, hoping that fishing activities may soar after the Eid holidays. He said that market stagnation has also caused a decline in seafood prices.
Exporters said that the global economic downturn has also contributed to the decline in seafood prices in Pakistani markets. They said that the country’s seafood export to China has also slowed down after the US demand for fish withered away with its economic recession.
“China is not placing orders with Pakistan as its key US seafood market is not importing the commodity from it because of an economic decline,” they said. According to traders, the prices of many fish species has had their effect on the country’s largest fisheries market during the last one-week. However, they said that the supplies of such species to Punjab have also halted just ahead of Eidul Azha.
“Buyers from Punjab have stopped placing their orders as Eid is about to fall next Saturday, which has also contributed to market stagnation,” they said, hoping that after Eid, the fish supplies to the country’s largest province will resume. They said that the price of pomfret has declined by Rs 100-150 per kg to Rs 650-700. The price of dother fish fell to Rs 300-350 per kg from Rs 400-450, heera fish to Rs 300-350 per kg from Rs 400-450, surmai fish to Rs 200-250 per kg from Rs 300-400, goor fish to Rs 300 per kg from 500, dhaama fish to Rs 75 per kg from Rs 100 and giser fish to Rs 450 per kg from Rs 600.
Fishermen said that their operational costs of fishing has increased whereas the returns to the seafood catch on the local market has declined, which has forced them to end activities. They said that they had hoped that the new fishing season in August would help them to fetch better prices for their catch but they failed to make any significant increase in earnings this year too.