ISLAMABAD-Pakistan can meet nutritional needs of a rapidly growing population by promoting production of non-conventional seafood varieties like shrimp and lobsters through modern fishing techniques.
Discussing the biofloc technology (BFT) for fish farming with WealthPK, Director General of the Fisheries Department of Punjab Dr Sikandar Hayat said it is one of the best aquaculture techniques, which doesn’t entail exploitation of land and water resources. “This system is devised to enhance water quality by eliminating waste from water through the natural biological process. The ‘floc’ is the combination of bacteria, nutrients, protozoa and multiple other microbes. In BFT, excessive feed and released fish excreta both are turned into microbial feed. Probiotics induce immunity in fish against pathogens. BFT is considered the most cost-effective and sustainable as it helps avoid excessive feed and regular water changes by maintaining its quality,” he explained.
Sikandar Hayat further said the fisheries department was promoting the BFT as a productive fish farming practice that could be started at any place (it can also be established on the house rooftop). “The department is also providing small fish ponds to farmers, besides developing a fish hatchery. Ponds can be made of rubber, cement, or any leak-proof material,” he said, adding that free or subsidised seeds would also be provided to farmers. He said the department introduced hatcheries as per 4-5 BFTs in the first phase of the scheme. He added that farmers only needed to prepare the ponds of at least a 20-foot radius, in which about 1,000 fish can be accommodated. The fisheries department’s director general said a proper small-scale BFT business could be started with an investment of about Rs700,000 to Rs800,000. Discussing with WealthPK the prospects of fisheries development, the fisheries department’s director Iftikhar Ahmad Chaudhary said seafood is the most nutritious aspect of the food chain. “The Punjab fisheries department is taking every step possible to develop a regular farming practice. “BFT is one of the most recommended techniques to manage the aquaculture. It is also helpful to provide fresh seafood to households. So, we can say that it is the most economic technique to fulfill both commercial and domestic needs.” He said modifying eating habits to make seafood as part of the regular menu was necessary to promote the seafood industry. “As a first step, increased domestic production and consumption are vital to promoting the fishing culture in Pakistan. BFT is a good technique to improve fish production. It will help improve per capita fish consumption and benefit fish farmers economically. With the improvement of local market consumption, obviously, farmers will keenly learn to add value, better market and even export the produce. It is a natural market factor that increased production attracts investors and develops the value chain.”