Low winter catch, stagnant prices: export of fresh seafood to Middle East comes to a halt
January 09, 2013
Export of fresh seafood from Pakistan to Middle East has come to a halt because of low winter catch and stagnant prices on the global market, despite huge appeal for fish and shrimp in the Arab countries, fisheries sources said on Tuesday. “Since Christmas last year, export of fresh seafood to the Middle East from Pakistan has come to a halt and exporters are anticipating the lean-period will last till February,” they said.
The seafood prices in Middle East markets are still unchanged, despite a significant demand for Pakistani fish and shrimp varieties, they said, adding “the rates of seafood at local market increased due to the low catch in winter.” They said Pakistani seafood exporters usually focus on Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Kuwait. “Since prices of seafood are stagnant in Middle East markets, the financial viability for Pakistani exporters largely lost,” they said.
“Pakistan exports fresh white and black pomfret, white shrimp, king fish, cuttlefish and squid to the Arab countries on a daily basis,” said a local fresh seafood exporter – Fazal Akbar, who is proprietor of United Fisheries. He said that the local production of fish and shrimp had declined significantly in the present cold spell of winter, which is expected to prolong till February. “The catch of all export quality seafood has slumped which led to hike in their prices at local market,” he said.
The exporter believed that costly buying of seafood would reduce financial gain at the Middle East market as prices of fish and shrimp still low there. He said the appeal for the local fisheries items was still higher in the Arab world. Shrimp (big size) of white genre is air transported to Dubai where it is priced for $7.5 per kilogram whereas it is available for Rs 800. King Fish at $7 per kg and black pomfret at $3 per kg are tagged, he added.
The low price difference of the shrimp in local and international markets discourages exporters to continue their trade, he said. “The local fresh seafood export sector is officially neglected as there is no subsidy for exporters to offset losses during global trade,” regretted Fazal Akbar.
The prices of white pomfret (big size) are Rs 2000 per kg and black pomfret (big size) Rs 400 per kg. King fish is available between Rs 750 per kg and Rs 850 per kg, cuttlefish for Rs 350-400 per kg and squid for Rs 250 per kg. Shrimp medium sized for Rs 650 per kg and its small size is selling for Rs 450 per kg, he said. Showing fears, he said the local fishermen are less interested to voyage in winter for catch as expenses for hunt on the sea are greater than the returns. “Fishing activities have receded and a large number of boats are at moorages,” the exporter said.