Fishery aquaculture has existed in Pakistan for quite sometime now.In this one literally grows fish from small fish media called fingerling,the latter being produced in hatcheries.Fishery aquaculture is, however ,quite expensive business requiring land,pond excavation,water pumps and drainage system and in some cases even expensive oxygenation.Fish feed is also to be provided.In Punjab,fish aquaculture has grown quite significantly to meet demand mostly from middle and upper classes.
In coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan, natural fish is caught under traditional net and line method using fishing boats and trawlers.It is an open access system where Pakistani vessels have equal access under a nominal registration fee system.Fish catches and yields from the sea has bee dwindling through out the world including Pakistani coasts , creating a space and demand for other fishing techniques,one of which is fish aquaculture as discussed before.
Lately Fisheries Development Board has announced a project named Cage Fishery Development.
In this technique fish aquaculture is done in inland water bodies, open riverine or sea water in metal or plastic net cages. Because in open water,fish grown by fish farmer is free to go away otherwise,it has to be caged.With cages many individual and groups can pursue aquaculture in a common water resource,otherwise one has to excavate his pond or may have to contract or lease the whole water body.
Cage fish aquaculture is relatively a new technology developed only since 1980-90s.Highest development and production of cage fish culture has taken place in China,where demand for nutritional protein is high due to an expanding population base.In Nepal ,cage fish culture has been introduced to provide livelihood to displaced communities of a dam project.In Indonesia and Thailand ,Tsunami victims have been supported through in-cage fishery aquaculture initiatives.Most recently,Clinton's foundation Global Initiatives has launched a similar project for Haiti Earthquake victims and has reportedly been received well by the stake holders.
Currently the initiative launched by Fisheries development Board(FSB) is geared towards larger projects and investments.FSB has created a network of facilities to promote fish production through this method.The in-cage fishery aquaculture is feasible both for large scale as well as at micro and individual level.FSB and provincial governments would be strongly advised to launch a small scale initiative for the poor farmers,rural poor and the landless peasants and now the flood victims.A package consisting of 4-5 fish cages of one cubic meter volume(one meter all sides),and monthly feed supplies and a starting stock of fingerling could be provided to the target group in all parts of the country in flood areas and in coastal Balochistan.Water bodies may be allocated to farmers groups and associations or on individual basis along with the aforementioned inputs.A training and demonstration programme should also be launched .Chinese government may be requested to provide assistance in this respects.They have a lot of experience in this and offer inputs and services at less than % prices.
This is no alternative to land reforms,in absence of which at least water bodies like rivers,canals and lakes could be leased to the poor for in-cage fish aquaculture production,which would earn them cash and as well meet the nutritional requirements.NGOs should also pay attention especially for the flood victim poor.Women who currently are at a disadvantage in the fisheries sector,because in our social and religious traditions,women do not go out on boat for fishing,in-cage fishery would provide an alternative inroad into this sector.