Shrimp is considered as the No.1 favorite seafood in many Western countries including USA. The demand for quality shrimp worldwide is growing each year. Depletion of natural shrimp stocks in the wild is occurring rapidly. Shrimp farming in the world has grown into a multi billion-dollar giant, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and much-needed foreign exchange in many countries. Owing to the technological advancement and new techniques as introduced by the researchers, shrimp can now be raised and harvested round the year in various climates.
Shrimp farming continues to be one of the fastest growing sectors of the entire aquaculture industry. The sector has shown explosive growth during the last two decades. Particularly, during the period between 1985-95, the contribution from farm-raised shrimp to the total world supply of shrimp has grown by approximately 400 percent. Worldwide, there are approximately 50,000 farms that occupy almost 1.2 million hectares of land. According to a recent estimate, total revenues generated from the production of farm-raised shrimp worldwide were US$5-6 billion annually. Approximately 10 percent of the farms in the world are currently using intensive or super-intensive production strategies. This is particularly true in Taiwan and Thailand, where the industry is extremely well developed. Experts are of the view that stock of shrimps in Pakistani sea will reduce with the passage of time, and in order to meet the increasing demand, shrimps being caught recently were the mangroves with small eye nets, which is said to be very dangerous for ecosystem.
Balochistan has an ideal land and suitable conditions for shrimp farming. Fisheries sector contributes only 0.3 percent to the overall GDP and 1.3 percent to the agricultural GDP despite a coastline of 1,050 km and a total area of approximately 0.25 million square kilometers of marine and 0.08 million sq km of inland waters. Balochistan fish landings dropped from 126,755 tons in 2003 to 137,082 tons in 2007.
According to the Marine Fisheries Department, the shellfish stocks (shrimps, lobsters, crabs, etc.) have dropped to 28,166 tons of landing against the maximum sustainable yield of 47,500 tons. During FY 2005-06, the total marine and inland fish production stood at 0.6 million metric tons, of which 63 percent was marine production and the remaining 37 percent catch came from inland waters. Fifty percent of the total production i.e. 0.3mmt was consumed locally, 0.12mmt of fish and fish products were exported and 0.18mmt of the fish production was used as fish meal.
770-km long Balochistan coast makes up 70 percent of Pakistan’s total coastal line. The province has immense potential for development of shrimp fishery in Sonmiani, Jewani, Kalmat, Gwadar, Pasni and Ormara. The coastline is the most productive marine ecosystem of the world. According to an estimate, 60 species of fish and 10 of shrimps, including the best in the world, are found in Balochistan.
Balochistan is more suitable for setting up shrimp farming units. The land along coastal belt has enormous potential for development of shrimp farming and processing projects, which can play a vital role in fisheries development in the province. The shrimp farming projects would not only earn huge foreign exchange for the country but also prosper the local fishermen by providing them a constant source of income. There are greater prospects for generation of employment for local people, as a huge labor force may be required to run the shrimp farming units in coastal areas.
Shrimp farming is an important economic activity, which can develop unproductive salty coastal areas of Pakistan. The fish farming projects will improve the socio-economic conditions of the people in coastal areas of the country and elevate their standard of living. The small shrimp farms by accelerating the pace of development may bring economic bonanza for the coastal belt of Pakistan.
The farm raised shrimp production is export-oriented. There is a great demand for shrimps in the foreign countries. The main buyers are USA, Japan, Gulf and European Union countries. According to an estimate, about three million tons of shrimps are globally produced every year in various types and species out of which around 50 percent come from the farms. Shrimp farming can bring huge export earnings for the country in view of increasing world demand for shrimps.
Thailand, Ecuador, Indonesia, China, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Iran are the major producers of farmed shrimp. Our neighboring countries like India, Bangladesh and Iran have successfully entered into the field of shrimp farming. It is hardly 10-year period that Iran has taken steps for the development of shrimp fishery. The main shrimp farming species in Iran is Penaeus indicus. A few ponds are stocked with other shrimp species like P. monodon or P. semisulcatus, which are all endemic species to Iranian coastal waters. There are about 3600 ha of shrimp ponds in Iran and shrimp farms are located in Khuzistan, Busherhistan, Hormuzgan, Khuzistan and Balochistan.
Shrimp farming in Iran is characterized by high pond water salinity and temperatures. Very high salinity (up to 60 ppt) can be observed during the first month of rearing when pond water exchange is low. Pond water temperatures are fluctuating between 30 and 35°C during the hottest months (from July to mid September). Stocking density is averaging 25 PL’s/m2 and yield is averaging 2MT/ha. Shrimp farm units in Iran are usually of 20 ha and composed of 1 ha ponds. Total farm raised shrimp production was about 7000 MT in 2001 and about 6000MT in 2002.
There are lessons to be learnt from Iran experience, especially that of Iranian Balochistan where two crops per year can be achieved as shrimp farming conditions are better in terms of pond water salinity and temperature. Only one crop per year, on the other hand, is achieved in other Iranian provinces located along the Persian Gulf due to low temperatures encountered between October and April.