Fishing communities learn to earn a lot more from their catch

Asghar and his community have a lot to be happy about
October, 2014: For years, Asghar has been going out with a group of ten fishermen on a hila boat to catch shrimp in the waters off the Karachi shoreline. In all there are about 25,000 fishermen in his community, working in similar boats. Trips last from 5 to 7 days: a successful one can yield a catch of 400 kg.

In the past, improper handling meant the catch would get damaged in the wooden fish holds; in particular it tended to lose its freshness due to the low quality ice and poor hygiene conditions on board the fishing vessel. When unloading the fish at the harbour, they used wicker baskets, adding to the risk of contamination and deterioration of the catch. As a result, Asghar and his friends were forced to sell off 60% or more of their catch as fishmeal at a low price.

The EU-funded Trade-Related Technical Assistance Programme helped change all that. The experts promoted good hygiene practices on the boats, the use of fibreglass to line the fish holds, of plastic crates for on-board storage and off-loading of fish, of drinking water for the ice, and of wash basins with an overhead water tank on board the vessels and in the local auction halls. At the same time the Karachi auction halls were renovated by the provincial authorities to allow for a quick and smooth flow of fish in in well-controlled temperatures.

Today, Asghar can sell 30% more quality shrimps at a better price after each trip. This has increased the income for him, his wife and their three kids by 20%.

In March 2013, the European Union reopened its markets to fish exports from Pakistan, a move which contributed to a new high of US$ 367 million in fish exports for the fiscal year 2013-2014.

Asghar and his 25,000 fellow fishermen, live in communities with a population of 135,000 on the coastal islands off Karachi. Theirs has not been an easy life. But they now very much hope that the opening-up of international markets will lead to a further growth of Pakistani fisheries exports and to enhanced and sustained prosperity for the fishing communities along Pakistan’s coastline.

Fact Box

The objective of the EU-funded Trade-Related Technical Assistance Programme (TRTA) is to support sustainable development and poverty reduction in Pakistan by promoting economic integration and stimulating decent employment opportunities through increased exports.

Contributions and Aim:
The budget is €12.5 million for a period of November 2009 to May 2016.
The TRTA- II programme has three complementary components

- Component 1 is building capacity within the MoC to formulate trade policies and to participate proactively in trade negotiations.

- Component 2 is strengthening the quality and conformity of products with international standards and compliance requirements, with a particular focus on selected exports (fisheries, horticulture and industrial products).

- Component 3: is working to strengthen the Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) regime in Pakistan and improve the protection of IPRs, thereby enhancing the business and investment climate in the country.

Through these components the project will also contribute to poverty reduction, gender equality, improved governance and social, environmental and work standards.

“We worked non stop and couldn’t even understand why our fish were always in worse condition than others. This has changed our lives. Our families are delighted.”, said Asghar.

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