Future in fisheries

‘National Fisheries Week 2021’

Future in fisheries

Bangladesh is observing ‘National Fisheries Week 2021’ from August 28, culminating on September 3. The theme of this year’s National Fisheries Week is ‘Culture more fish, reduce unemployment’. On the proceeding of National Fisheries Week, the achievements and significant constraints in fisheries and aquaculture production of Bangladesh demand a brief discourse.

Status of total fisheries production
Globally, Bangladesh ranked third in open water fisheries production, fifth for aquaculture, and fourth for tilapia, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, the fisheries sector contributed 3.50 percent to the national GDP. Fish production in Bangladesh has increased six-fold in the last three decades. From open water capture fisheries in the 2018-19 fiscal year, Bangladesh produced 1235709 tons of fish; 2488601 tons of fish were raised in culture setting, and 659911 tons were caught from the marine fisheries.

Aquaculture in Bangladesh consists of inland and coastal aquaculture. Pond farming is often seen in freshwater aquaculture, while the ‘gher’ culture is practiced in coastal aquaculture. Aquaculture farming systems are vastly extensive. However, bio-floc fish farming, which relies on intensive methods, is becoming more popular these days. In order to maintain an effective aquaculture industry, it is critical to have quality seeds and feeds readily available. The aquaculture extension service of the Department of Fisheries is quite satisfactory. However, quality seeds can only be obtained via top-notch hatchery management.

Fisheries management and biodiversity
The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock is in charge of several governmental entities, including the Department of Fisheries, Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute, and Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation, in charge of management, extension, research, project implementation, marketing, training, and human resource development, quality control, biodiversity conservation, and law and regulation enforcement. In addition, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and other non-governmental organizations are assisting the government with fisheries management.

However, Bangladesh’s fisheries management strategies remain still in the early stages. A large number of Bangladesh’s native fishes are now on the verge of extinction due to a lack in management strategies.

Coastal and marine fisheries
Swatch of No Ground, Middle Ground, South Patches, and South of South Patches are the major commercial fishing zones in the Bay of Bengal. The government has designated the Swatch of No Ground as the country’s first marine protected area to protect spawning and hatching grounds for several endangered marine species.

Bangladesh has newly achieved sovereign rights on more than 118,813 km2 territorial sea area and 200 nautical miles (NM) of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Fishing in the Bay of Bengal are carried out by traditional fishing boats, mid-water and long-liner trawlers. There is no current or comprehensive knowledge on fish stocks, systematics, and biological-ecological features of coastal and marine fisheries in Bangladesh, according to a study by researchers from Sylhet Agricultural University.

Special attention is needed on coastal and marine fisheries research and studies to progress the blue economy and exploit Bangladesh’s large sea area. This is one of twenty-six possible blue economy sectors.

Hilsa- the geographical indicator of Bangladesh
As a single species, the national fish hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha) has contributed the most (12.15 percent) to the country’s total fish production. Our national fish hilsa, known as ‘Bangladesh ilish,’ has also received the Geographical Indication Registration Certificate. The Bangladeshi government makes specific efforts to enhance hilsa production. There are a lot of things involved here, including a fishing prohibition during the spawning season, restrictions on fishing equipment, controls on fishing vessels, incentives for fishers, and more. This certainly seems relevant, and the country is taking note of the benefits.

The fisheries sector of Bangladesh has copious prospects for development and boosting the country’s economy. Thus the government of Bangladesh set a goal in its Vision 2021 to achieve food self-sufficiency and has placed a bunch of emphasis on continuing to increase food security, which encompasses a clear long-term policy to achieve self-reliance in fish production.

Inter-government departmental cooperation, the collaboration between governmental and non-governmental organizations, and arousal of public response are all crucial in the composition of fisheries policy and for the further development of this sector.

The writer is Postgraduate researcher, Department of Aquatic Resource Management, Sylhet Agricultural University

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Iftekhar Ahmed Fagun

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