Pakistan is bestowed with rich seafood potential to earn substantial amount in foreign exchange in national the exchequer. The coastline of about 1,120 km is sea fishing zone that earns Pakistan hard currency through export. According to information, the country has a fish and seafood industry of worth $1.2 billion. Exports alone stood nearly $200 million per annum. More than 0.8 million people directly or indirectly rely on this industry for their livelihood. Experts viewed that the seafood industry is under threat from two sides, one is over-fishing, which may reduce the resource base and hence the yield. The other is from poor quality control, which means that the value of the catch is not being maximized and much is going to waste. In April last year the European Union had imposed ban on all fish imports from Pakistan - worth more than US$ 80 million annually - because of poor quality products. Exporters attributed the fall in export price of fisheries products in July-December period of 2007-08 to major landing of shrimps at the harbour, however, due to suspension of exports to EU, which used to be major consuming market of the shrimp, exporters had to dispose of the bulk quantity of shrimps to other destination, which usually bring less prices compared to countries of Europe. It is usually July-December period when bulk quantity of fisheries products lands at the harbour with the catch of huge quantity of shrimp, which was mainly exported to EU market. Exporters, however pointed out that despite the less export price, industry and fishermen were able to absorb this fall in export price as landing of bulk quantity of fisheries catch earned the stakeholders profits, though margins were slightly lower. They foresee better prospects in the coming days because export orders are pouring in major numbers but because of less quantity of catch landing at the harbour, prices are soaring. "There is major demand of fish products in various markets whereas the quantity of catch has shrunk, ultimately importers are compelled to pay more prices to meet their needs," they said. "Though there was some reduction in export of fisheries products in first half of the current fiscal year, exports in terms of absolute terms would also be on the upper side and signs have started coming with the figures in January 2008," Ikhlaq Hussain Abidi, a leading seafood exporter said. Exports were slightly down by 1.24 percent in July-January of the current fiscal to $105 million compared to $107 million in the corresponding period of previous year, however, in month of January, exports jumped by over 47 percent compared to the same month of last year. Abidi said that though suspension of export to EU is an issue to seafood industry, however, it has remained no more relevant in the present situation when a number of new markets have been explored, which are consuming substantial quantity of our exports. Those associated with fishing business said there are about 16,000 fishing boats in coastal area of Pakistan, which operate in shallow coastal waters as well as in offshore areas. These fishing boats undertake fishing trips lasting for few hours to about 25 days depending upon type of fishing. Total production from inland and marine waters is approximately 0.60 M. tons. Provincial Government of Sindh is operating Karachi Fisheries Harbour. Karachi Fish Harbour handles about 90% of fish and seafood catch in Pakistan and 95% of fish and seafood exports from Pakistan. There are 29 fish processing units in Pakistan with storage capacity of 10,000 tons, out of these 25 units are locate in Karachi of Federal Government provided intelligentsia and technical assistance to seafood establishments for improving their processing conditions in line with various EU / international standards. Fish and fishery products are processed and exported to over 50 countries. About 30 35% of the fish and fishery products are exported to European Union countries. Japan, U. S. A. China, Saudi Arabia, U. A. E. Malaysia, S. Korea, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Singapore are other major importing countries. Experts said Pakistan's exports of fishery products stand at about 0.25% of world exports. A rough estimate based on maximum sustainable yield figures, existing value addition, and foreign benchmarks, puts our total export potential from this sector at around US$ 1.0 billion from existing natural resources. If we include the high potential area of aquaculture, our fisheries sector can yield even higher export earnings, they added. Information revealed that the country's domestic consumption is termed as one of the lowest in the world, at 1.6 kg per person per year (compared to world average of 16.2 kg per person per year). Hence, most of the produce is exported. Fishermen said that on the coast of Pakistan, there are more than 30 species of shrimps, 10 species of crabs, 5 species of lobster and about 70 commercial species of fish including sardine, Hilsa, shark, Mackerel, Butterfish, Pomfret, Sole, Tuna, sea bream, Jew fish and Cat Fish, Shark, and Eel. Marine fishing is undertaken from right beyond the coast to 200 nautical miles into the sea. The country fetched an average price of $1.45 per kg on fish exports in the first quarter (July-September) of this fiscal year as against $1.73 per kg in the same period last year as exporters had to sell their shipments at low prices to other countries after the European Union banned seafood imports from Pakistan from April 12 this year. Total exports of fish and fish preparations stood at $34.4 million in the quarter under review as against $45.4 million the same period of 2006, showing a sharp fall of 24 per cent. The government had set a provisional overall fish export target including exports to EU countries at $230 million for 2007-2008 but it seems that the target will not be achieved as Pakistan has already lost the EU market. The country fetched $188 million export during 2006-2007 including exports to European countries. A fish exporter told that the landing of shrimps had been 60 per cent higher this year over the last year but exporters had to sacrifice on the prices by sending the shrimps to various destinations other than the EU states at low prices. The government is unable to restart exports of seafood to the European Union (EU). The EU has banned seafood exports from Pakistan since April 2007. The action was taken after its inspectors' visit to Pakistan in January this year. They found the industry's food processing below their standards. The EU had also raised complaints against fishing vessels, auction halls and processing units, which have still not been addressed by the fishermen community. However, to remove their objections the Government of Sindh has spent Rs 50 million to meet the EU export standards.