Regulatory Framework in Pakistan for Fisheries

The Fishing Industry in Pakistan
Pakistan has a fish and seafood industry worth US$1.2 billion. Exports alone are worth nearly US$200 million. More than 800,000 people rely directly or indirectly on the industry for their livelihoods or family income.

The major issue for Pakistan is over fishing, a result of a failure to manage the fisheries correctly. Management failures in fisheries are not peculiar to Pakistan by any means. The most significant feature of marine fisheries in Pakistan, is that it is an “open entry system”. According to classical resource economics, since the point of un-profitability lies beyond the point where the fishery is at it Maximum Biological Sustainable Yield, there will be over fishing in a common property resource with open entry. This is exactly what has happened in Pakistan, the catch is declining and incomes are reducing.

The Regulatory Framework in Pakistan for Fisheries
The current legislative framework dealing with fisheries in the country is the Exclusive Fishing Zone (Regulation of Fishing) Act, 1975 as amended in 1993. This extends to the whole Pakistan and to waters within the exclusive fishery zone of Pakistan beyond the territorial waters. It regulates the management of fishing in exclusive economic zone of the country. The provisions of the law cover:
• Licensing and management of fishing operation
• Fishing craft subject to navigational regulation
• Prohibiting illegal, dynamite and poisoning fishing
• Closed season and prohibited area
• Penalties in contravention of any provisions such as seizure and disposal of fishing craft, fishing gear and fish catch.

The Marine Fisheries Department (MFD) of the federal government performs the functions of conservation of fisheries resources, management and development of resources along scientific lines, training of fisheries and fish farmers and in-service training, extension services of the private sector, revenue earning through auctioning/licensing of water resources and supplies of quality fish-seed to private fish farmers on subsidized rates.

Currently the only local legislation directly related to fish quality is the Pakistan Fish Inspection and Quality Control Act of 1998, which was adopted in response to WTO regulations. This legislation gives the ministry wide ranging powers and lays down rules for the handling of fish, on-board, in landing areas and auction halls and in processing units. The Agriculture Produce (Grading and Marketing) Act, 1937 also provides authority and control for the grading and marketing of the agricultural produce including dry fish, shellfish, and fishmeal.

Pakistan is also bound by the Precautionary Approach to Sustainable Fisheries, part of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, as part of the Rome Convention of 1999. The Code in itself is not binding, but is enshrined in other treaties to which Pakistan is a signatory. The Code provides principles and standards applicable to the conservation, management and development of all fisheries. It also covers the capture, processing and trade of fish and fishery products, fishing operations, aquaculture, fisheries research and the integration of fisheries into coastal area management. The code contains many clauses detailing responsible ways to manage fish stocks including:-

“States should prevent over fishing and excess fishing capacity and should implement management measures to ensure that fishing effort is commensurate with the productive capacity of the fishery resources and their sustainable utilization.”

Overview of the Global Fishing Industry
The fishing industry (or fishing sector) is extraordinarily diverse. At one extreme are large, multinational joint ventures, utilizing large factory trawlers and numerous other vessels, employing thousands of workers on several oceans. At the other are small, wooden canoes and other boats used by individual fishermen to catch sufficient food for their families and perhaps more to sell in their local communities. The technology used can be simple and traditional, or it may be highly sophisticated, incorporating the most advanced electronic and other equipment. Some parts of the fishing industry are under social and economic pressures resulting from declines or sudden disappearances in certain stocks of fish (and other living marine resources) due to over fishing and other reasons and to loss of access to fishing grounds.

The Global Fishing Regulations
The world’s fisheries have come under increasing control. International Conventions, Agreements, Codes and activities have had, and are having, a major impact on where and how fishing takes place.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea gives coastal States the authority to manage fisheries within their jurisdiction.

The EU Code of Practice for Fish and Fishery Products has been developed by the EU Codex Committee on Fish and Fishery Products and gives general advice on the production, storage and handling of fishery products on board fishing vessels and on shore. It also deals with the distribution and retail display of fish and fishery products. It is incorporated as a fundamental operating procedure.

In USA, the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (MSA) of 1996 provides the legislative framework for the fishing industry determining the allowable catch limits and habitat-protection rules and so forth.

There are no binding harvesting standards in the fishing industry. However, various organizations have attempted to introduce voluntary harvesting standards that promote sustainable fisheries. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), based in the UK, is one such organization.

The Future of Fisheries
Enforcement of regulations is an often-neglected aspect of fisheries management. Setting catch regulations is of little use if they are not enforced and similarly the quality of fish will not be consistent without adequate enforcement of the laws.