LAHORE: Fisheries project development in ‘saline and brackish waters’ of southern Punjab by the Department of Fisheries Punjab could not achieve its stated targets despite completion of the project, whereas a high percentage of fish mortality (snakeheads/shrimps) was observed, Pakistan Today learnt reliably.
According to sources, “The project was started in August 2014 and ended in June 2018. The main objective was to conduct survey and studies of saline/brackish waters in select districts for categorization of saline water areas, keeping in view their suitability for fish culture since around 6.52 million acres land in Punjab is affected by saline and brackish waters and has marginal productivity resulting into low income for the farmer.”
Sources also informed that the project was aimed to enhance productivity of such areas through culture of fish species having higher salinity tolerance.
It was also envisaged that successful implementation of the project would result in enhanced farming and aquaculture activities in saline and brackish water bodies in targeted areas with the help of studying physiochemical properties of the surface and subsoil waters with aim to get additional fish production to the tune of 300-400m tones in public and private sectors annually.
Directorate General Monitoring and Evaluation (DGM&E) prepared a report over the project which revealed that only partial targets were achieved. The report observed that before launching such a project, the department should conduct trial studies on smaller scale to overcome hurdles during implementation.
While giving its observations the report states, “The project was approved without proper projection of RBM Indicators (Result Based Management) to assess the efficiency, sustainability and status of farming at pre and post project stage. The project was revised three times but the physical activities and expected financial gains of project interventions were not projected in PC-I. The project is deficient of FCR (Feed Conversion Ratio) values and economical model, carrying technical aspects. There is also absence of relevant data/literature/trials regarding introduction of alien species into local environment without any prior studies on smaller scale. The fish seed production/rearing facilities were generated under the scheme but their targets were not projected in the PC-I. Three project directors were changed during project execution stages”.
The report further states, “A high percentage of mortality of fish (Snakehead)/shrimps was observed in the project which should not be overlooked. No investigative research/report on mortality of prawns/shrimp/fish was carried out. Department reported that an amount of Rs1.918 million was generated through sale of fish but there are also fluctuations. There is great heterogeneity in the saline lands/waters viz saline, saline-sodic, sodic and normal. It was planned to categorize the saline waters on the basis of tests viz dissolved oxygen, total alkalinity, hardness, pH, TDS, CO2 etc of targeted districts and their classification for suitability of different fish species but the requisite compilation is lacking. Fish farming area in targeted districts especially Muzaffargarh showed an upward trend”.
The report recommends, “Before launching such projects, the department should conduct trial/experimental studies in tanks, aquariums or small ponds to assess the survival/mortality/morbidity rate and its impact on environment, rather than conducting trials directly into ponds. Department should focus on provision of qualified technical assistance to farmers at their door steps.”
“Effective plans should be formulated by the department to provide training to farmers which should include efficient economic role models and usage of modern techniques to trigger the aquaculture practices. The department should also consider on spot/farm workshops for dissemination of technology in addition to indoor workshops. Efficient record keeping is an important tool to identify the progress and problems in the project for further planning and development of similar projects”.
Assistant Director Fisheries Department Mushtaq Qureshi rejected the report and said, “All documents and data were provided to the DGME.” Adding, “The project is functioning without any hurdle”.