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Md. Giasuddin Khan
Principal Scientific Officer and Project Director, Marine Fisheries Survey, Management and Development Project, DOF, Chittagong
M.A. Latif Chief Scientific Officer, Fisheries Research Institute (FRI), Brackishwater Station, Paikgacha, Khulna


The fisheries sector provides about 80 per cent of the animal protein consumed in Bangladesh. But despite continuous increase in fish production, it has not been able to cope with the fast-growing population. In 1975-76 the country's fish production from all sources was 640,000t. In 1993-94, this production rose to 1,087,000 t, whereas the per capita fish consumption went down from 33.4 g to 21

g. This has happened simply because fish production increased at an arithmetical rate whereas the human population increased in geometrical proportion.

The freshwater area is getting reduced and the overall ecology of fish habitats and the routes of migration have altered due to various water resources development activities. So, it is difficult to fulfil the minimum protein requirement of the teeming millions from the freshwater subsector alone. But the highest priority has always been accorded to the freshwater fisheries, as reflected in the number of fisheries development projects implemented since liberation, in spite of the fact that the marine fisheries sector has the lion's share of foreign exchange earnings and contributes to the development budget in that proportion. If similar level of management and development attention was paid to the marine sector, it would be possible to give substantially increased production.

The marine fisheries sector at present contributes only 25 per cent of the country's total production, despite a sizeable marine and brackishwater area under the EEZ. The development potential of this sector has not been properly exploited. Rather, because of unplanned and irrational increase in fishing effort, many of the marine fish and shrimp stocks have already declined. As a result, coastal fishing has become non-remunerative and fisherfolk are getting poorer, thus putting more and more damaging pressure on the resource, a fruitless endeavor for survival. This may give the impression that marine resources exploitation has become saturated, but the story is different; in fact, we are killing a resource with great potential.

The valuable penaeid shrimp stocks in particular have been under pressure from three different sides, leading to a complete risk of annihilation. Superseding the long term development objectives with various quick-money strategies is a common practice in the tropical developing countries, which has led many fisheries throughout Asia and the Pacific to total annihilation. This must be taken as a lesson and we must choose the long term and not the short-term strategies for management, before we reach a point of no return. As fisheries resources are renewable, a diversified and judicial exploitation plan may give a production many times higher than the present from the same stock.


Three recent surveys involving Dr.Fridtjof Nansen (FAO/NORAD/BGD 1979-80) and Annusandhani (BGD 1983, and FAO/BGD 1984-86) gave estimates of demersal standing stock very close to each other, between 150,000 and 160,000 t. within the exploited 10-100 meter shelf area (Saetre 1981, Khan 1983, Lamboeuf 1987). An additional 100,000 mt of fish stock is available within the 24,000 open brackishwater area between the shore line and 10m depth (Saetre 1981). The penaeid shrimp stock has been reported as being 2,000-4,000 t. by various authors (Penn, 1983: White & Khan, 1985a: Mustafa, 1985). On the basis of biological information, the penaeid shrimp MSY was estimated at 7,000-8,000 t. annually (Khan et al. 1989).

A detailed pelagic survey is yet to take place to provide a reliable estimate of the standing stock. Acoustic survey by Dr.Fridtjof Nansen, however, gave an estimate of 60,000-1,20,000 mt, which is an underestimate (Saetre,1981). The other potential resources, eg. Cephalopods, lobster, flatfish etc., have not been studied in detail. Some indications are however, available from the casual data of the

Anusandhani that encourage the belief that a potential yield is available for harvesting. A detailed study would, however, be necessary.

The total production from all sources of marine and brackishwater fisheries has been estimated to be 264,000 mt (Khan, 1994). The drift gillnet fishery and the estuarine set bagnet fishery account for the bulk of the production, followed by the marine set bagnet fishery, and trawl fishery accounting for 136,000 t., 73,000 t., 26,000t and 17,000 t respectively.


3.1 The causal oceanographic-features
3.2 The effect of environmental alteration on resource degradation

3.1 The causal oceanographic-features

The principal feature of the brackishwater estuarine hydrology is the presence of a prolonged low-saline regime, generally during the monsoon and post-monsoon seasons. A semi-diurnal tide is typical of Bangladesh's coastal waters which range upto three metres. Salinity increases with strong tidal effect catalyzed by ebb-tide, and turbidity increases due to the sub- monsoon effect (FAO, 1968). The reversal currents influence the circulation and, thus, productivity of the water, their ecology and the biogeography. Oxygen deficit is prominent in the subsurface layer of the outer shelf area.

The distribution of depths in the Bay of Bengal has many irregularities, due to the presence of submarine canyons, ridges and other topographic features. This restricts fishing operations greatly. A huge discharge of freshwater runoff from many great rivers is a dominant feature that influences dynamics of the coastal and marine environment seasonally. The Bangladesh continental shelf serves as the reception basin of a great amount of sediment brought down from the Himalayas; this amounts to 13 million t/day during the rainy season (Eysink, 1983).

3.2 The effect of environmental alteration on resource degradation

3.2.1 Water resources development activities
3.2.2 Destruction of mangrove forests
3.2.3 Pollution of the marine and brackishwater environment

Water resources development activities, destruction of mangrove forests, water pollution and overfishing have been recognized as major factors for the alternation of the natural environment and the degradation of coastal and marine resources.

3.2.1 Water resources development activities

About 3.36 million ha of inundatable floodplain have been protected through the construction of 7,024 m. of hydraulic embankments, 3,888 bridges and culverts, and 1,064 minor closures up to June 1990 (MPO, 1990) as part of the implementation of various water development projects, such as river closures, water abstraction, FCD and FCDI. These projects, though achieving the target objective, produce inimical effects on the aquatic systems and affect aquatic productivity adversely (Ali, 1991) by inhibiting fish movements and migration for breeding and feeding and reducing production area and nursery grounds openwater systems.

About 814,000 ha of floodplains have been removed from the openwater fishery production system till 1985. This has caused a considerably smaller fish harvest in the area, which includes valuable brackishwater and marine euryhaline species such as mullet, hilsa and macrobrachium. Thus, it is estimated that, by the year 2000, 110,000 t. of fish harvest would be lost every year (MPO, 1987).

River closures, barrages and sluice gates obstruct the siltation flow process, which is supposed to wash down to the Bay of Bengal, and, as a result, the rivers and estuaries are silted up. The closure of the Kumar river, under the Ganges-Kobadak Project, has for example cut off the Hilsa migration route and, as a consequence, the Hilsa fishery in the Kumar river is no more evident. The Hilsa fishery in the Ganges has declined both in India (99 per cent) and Bangladesh due to the Farakka Barrage (Jhingran, 1983; MPO, 1986).

3.2.2 Destruction of mangrove forests

Mangroves serve as buffer zones against cyclones and tidal surges. The Bangladesh coast supports about 587,400 ha of natural mangroves (Mahmood 1986) and a further 100,000 ha of planted mangroves. This vast network supports the habitat of several species, particularly the younger stages of shellfish and finfish (Mahmood et al, 1994).

Because of severe destruction, ecological changes caused by biotic factors, and salinity increase due to reduced rainflows, caused by the construction of dams, barrages, embankments etc, an estimated 40-45% of the two major mangrove species of the Khulna Sundarbans reserve forest have declined between 1959 and 1983. The worst destruction has been going on in Chakaria, Cox's Bazar, due to the irrational expansion of coastal shrimp farming. The Kewra forest of Jaliardwip, in the Naf river, has been cleared for conversion into shrimp ponds (Mahmood, 1995).

Many authors have tried to establish the relationship of fish and shrimp (post larvae and juvenile) shelter with the mangroves and have stated that rich fishing grounds in the shelf areas are usually found off dense mangrove forests. The degradation of these mangrove ecosystem has resulted in the depletion of fish and shrimp stock and affected the nursery grounds of the post larvae and juveniles. As a consequence the P.monodon PL are now less abundant in brackishwater areas.

3.2.3 Pollution of the marine and brackishwater environment

The Bangladesh marine and brackishwater ecosystem is threatened by different types of pollutants dumped directly in them or washed down through the large number of rivers and tributaries which crisscross the entire country before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.

Industrial wastes: More than 900 polluting industries, directly or indirectly, discharge their untreated liquid and solid wastes into brackish waterbodies. The Karnaphuli and the Rupsa-Bhrab rivers, which receive effluents from 309 industries in Chittagong and Khulna, are major carriers of such industrial contaminants as Ammonia, Chromium, Mercury, Phenols and DDT. Reports are available of direct fish kills and the toxic effect on the mortality of post- larvae and juveniles in the nursery grounds. Some pollution control measures have recently been introduced for effluent treatment (Mahmood et al, 1994).

Municipal wastes: Coastal cities and towns do not have any domestic waste treatment facilities. As a result huge quantities of untreated municipal wastes find their way directly or indirectly into the rivers and, thereafter to the Bay of Bengal, thus adding to the degradation of the marine and estuaries habitat.

Agrochemical wastes: Since 1977, the use of agrochemicals, both fertilizers and pesticides, has increased by about 400%. It has been estimated that, at present about 1800 t/year (Mahmood et al. 1994) of pesticide residues are added to the coastal waters through runoff.

Oil pollution: Localized oil pollution in the vicinity of Chittagong and Mongla port is said to be heavy. Increased shipping activities in the ports, crude and refined oil transportation, oil slicking from mechanized vessels, refinery and workshop spillage and accidental or wilful oil spillage by tankers are the major sources of pollution threatening the aquatic lives in the upper Bay of Bengal.

Owing to a lack of waste-reception and treatment facilities in the ports, and a lack of effective legislation and surveillance, foreign and domestic ships and trawlers discharge their oily waste in the sea unhindered. Ship-breaking operations around Chittagong and Khulna also discharge oily wastes and other noxious materials.


4.1 Life cycle pattern of penaeid shrimps
4.2 Artisanal fisheries restricting offshore recruitment
4.3 Industrial fishery reducing recruitment and killing spawners

Brackishwater estuaries are the meeting point of the fauna from three different ecosystems. Brackishwater species, e.g. Acetes indicus, Raconda russeliana, etc. live, grow and spawn in the same environment, while the marine and freshwater fauna use the brackishwater low-saline, nutrient-rich area as nursery grounds and visit only for a short time.

4.1 Life cycle pattern of penaeid shrimps

Penaeid shrimp live and spawn in offshore waters beyond the 40-metre depth zone. The larvae enter the estuarine habitat with the tidal currents. There they find an environment suitable for feeding and living at that age. As they grow bigger, their physical and biological demands change gradually and, so, they move back towards the sea. When they reach the parent stock they have grown to adulthood and have matured to participate in the spawning process, thus completing the life cycle.

During the different phases of their life cycle, the penaeid shrimp population encounter a variety of fishing gear in different areas and depths of the sea (Fig 1) starting with shrimp fry collecting gear at the PL stage, followed by the estuarine set bagnet (ESBN) and beach seine in the open brackish waters and estuaries, when they are at the juvenile stage. The survivors are then captured by the marine set bagnet (MSBN) at post-juvenile and pre-adult stages, by the trammelnets at adult size and, finally, the residual population is caught by the shrimp trawlers in the marine environment. Thus, members of a single stock are exposed to a multigear fisheries exploitation system.

4.2 Artisanal fisheries restricting offshore recruitment

The artisanal fishing gear operated in the open brackishwater environment - the ESBN, the pushnet and the beach seine - catches only the post-larvae and juveniles of the marine fauna in huge numbers, thereby restricting their recruitment in the open sea at an adult stage. The degree of such restriction by size and number would be evident from Figure 2 (after Khan et al, 1994) which shows P.monodon (Tiger shrimp) harvested by different interactive fishing gear. These gear, in this fashion cause imbalance in the food chain and in the overall ecology of marine habitat.

4.3 Industrial fishery reducing recruitment and killing spawners

The trawler fleet, although not permitted by rules and ordinance to fish at depths shallower than 40m, normally fish upto 30 m and even upto 20m depth. As their gear is non-selective, they too harvest sizes of fish and shrimp which fall under the post-juvenile and pre-adult categories (Figure 2), thereby restricting adult recruitment of a part of the population.

Figure 1. Life cycle pattern of penaeid shrimp

Figure 2. Annual catch (numbers) of Tiger shrimp (P. monodon) by length, exploited by different gears

Penaeid shrimp spawn throughout the year, with two peak seasons (January-Feb and July-August) when more than 90 per cent of the population in the spawning ground show the signs of full ripeness. To ensure a larval population for the next generation, the brooders need to be saved from fishing mortality during there periods. But the trawler fleet randomly harvests the brood shrimp during the peak spawning season. Thus, the larval population is getting reduced year after year.


5.1 Exploitation by industrial (trawl) fishery
5.2 Exploitation by semi-industrial fisheries
5.3 Exploitation by artisanal fisheries

Analysis of the catch effort as well as the biological data for the growth and mortality during the last decade (under DOF) provides information on the pattern of exploitation of various fish and shrimp stocks by different fishing gear. Some gear were found to be totally destructive, while the others were either partially harmful or proved to be biologically sustainable.

5.1 Exploitation by industrial (trawl) fishery

The effort in the trawl fishery during the last decade and a half has been around 5000-6000 standard fishing days (Table 1), to produce 3,500-6,000 t. of shrimp. The MSY of penaeid shrimp is 7,000 t. and the optimum effort for producing this amount is 7,000-8000 standard days. In some years it was around the level of MSY. Some effort was lost due to a major cyclone in April 1991. Thereafter, till date (1995) shrimp production has been much below the MSY level. At present there are 53 trawlers (41 shrimp and 12 finfish) which gave a total annual effort of about 5,000 standard days. This is at least 1000 days less than the optimum, mainly because ten of the trawlers are too old and their present average effort is 62 days/year/trawler (250 days standard) (Khan and Paul, 1993;

Rahman and Khan, 1995). If these old trawlers are made effective, the total effort would reach the optimum level.

Whitefish landed by the trawler fleet is in the range of 8,000-12,000 t, which is only 20 per cent of the actual catch,; while 80 per cent, equivalent to 35-45,000 t (White and Khan, 1985), is discarded dead in the sea. Even if the discarded amount is considered as production, the MSY is not being achieved. The MSY is 85,000 mt (Lambeouf, 1987). Although the trawl fishery is below the optimum effort, tiger shrimp, the targeted species, has been over-exploited as the gear is non-selective (Table 2). On the other hand, the brown shrimp, M.monoceros, shows an upward trend.

5.2 Exploitation by semi-industrial fisheries

Introduction of engine and nylon twine prior to and after liberation have made it possible to exploit even more the unexploited resources. One such development is the small mesh drift gillnetting for Hilsa. Production was raised by at least 1,00,0001 over-night. Till date (1995), no report on overfishing of Hilsa is available.

Then there are the bottom long-lining and marine set bagnet fishing operations with motorized boats. These fisheries do not provide sufficient indication of overfishing, but capture of Hilsa spawn and jatka is a concern for management. Over-fishing, however, is noticed in the brooder exploitation of Indian salmon and long Jewfish (Lakha and Lambu) with large mesh driftnet (LMD).

Table 1: Total catch for the last decade by commercial trawlers


Standard effort (days) of shrimp trawl

Actual effort (days) of shrimp trawl

No. of shrimp trawlers in operation

Shrimp catch (mt)

Catch/Day/Trawler (kg)

Shrimp catch by fish trawler (mt)

Total shrimp catch (mt)

Fish trawler effort converted to shrimp trawler effort

Total effort (Standard shrimp days)



























































































1980-91 *










*Due to cyclone, fishing was interrupted for two months.

Table 2: Population dynamics of some species exploited by the trawl fishery

Species of fish/shrimp








Penaeus monodon (M)








Penaeus monodon (F)








Metapenaeus monoceros (M)








Metapenaeus monoceros (F)








Pampus argenteus








Upenaeus sulphurous








Nemipterus japonicus








Saurida tumbil








Pomadasys hasta








Lepturacanthus savala








Harpadon nehereus








Lutjanus johni








Ariomma indica








5.3 Exploitation by artisanal fisheries

5.3.1 The estuarine set bagnet (ESBN) fishery
5.3.2 The pushnet fishery (for Bagda PL)
5.3.3 The trammel net fishery

5.3.1 The estuarine set bagnet (ESBN) fishery

Detailed catch assessment and biological information on the pattern of exploitation by this fishery is available (with DOF). It is evident that this fishery is the most destructive fishery of the natural resource (Islam et al., 1993, Khan et al., 1994). Table 3 shows the natural mortality, fishing mortality and exploitation pattern of the 19 most significantly occurring species of this fishery, covering three different ecosystems.

Table 3: Population parameters of some important species exploited by the ESBN fishery








P. monodon







P. indicus







M. monoceros







M. brevicornis







M. spinulatus







P. scuplitis







P. stylifera







Acetes indicus







M. rosenbergii







P. styliferus







R. russeliana







S. taty







S. tri







H. nehereus







L. savala







E. tetradactylum







P. paradiseus







S. domina







S. sihama







It can be seen that the species of brackishwater origin, i.e. Acetes indicus (the sergestid shrimp), Raconda russeliana and Setipinna taty are not over-harvested, rather they are underfished to some extent, while almost all species of marine and freshwater origin which visit the brackishwater area for nursery and breeding purpose are seriously overfished (growth overfishing). It can be seen in Figure 2 that all the shrimp are caught by this gear before the adult stage and are thus not permitted to join in the spawning process.

5.3.2 The pushnet fishery (for Bagda PL)

More than 2035 million Bagda post-larvae are collected annually, which is only a little over one per cent of the total catch of the fishery. The rest of the catch equivalent to about 200 billion PL of the shrimp/fish and zoo plankton is thrown on the sand to die. This is serious growth overfishing.

5.3.3 The trammel net fishery

The trammel net is at present operated only on a limited scale along the Teknaf coast. Since this gear is operated with country boats, the fishing is on artisanal scale, but the technique is modern. This is a selective gear and biological studies show that the exploitation pattern is below the optimum level, though the size at first capture is definitely above the optimum.


6.1 The complexity of multigear and multispecies fisheries management
6.2 Reduction of fishing effort in the ESBN fishery
6.3 Banning of particular fishing gear
6.4 Diversification of fishing method and reduction of mortality in shrimp PL fishery
6.5 Expansion and extension of fisheries sustainability at present
6.6 Management of the industrial trawl fishery
6.7 Prospect for development of new resources

The present management is largely concentrated on the industrial trawl fishery. The brackishwater and marine fisheries are not managed very much.

6.1 The complexity of multigear and multispecies fisheries management

Bangladesh has the problem of not only tropical multispecies fisheries but also multigear fisheries. Any single fishing operation catches a number of species at different sizes and ages on the one hand. On the other hand, members of the population of one species belonging to a single stock become available to different interactive fishing gear, in a sequential order. So each of them need to be accounted, as it is not possible to carry out an assessment on the basis of a single fishery alone. For instance, a large increase in artisanal fishing pressure significantly lowers the number of shrimp reaching the industrial trawling grounds and results in lower overall catches in the industrial fleet. This is unrelated to change in industrial fleet size. A situation like this preceded a temporary collapse of the shrimp stocks in the gulf (Vanzalinge, 1986).

The situation in the Bangladesh coastal shrimp fishery is similar and the penaeid shrimp stock is under pressure from all sides. It can be seen that (Fig 2) the ESBN, pushnets and beach seine harvest the members of the same population at sizes much lower than the size at first maturity and, as a result, about 99 per cent of the population do not get a chance to participate in the spawning process. It was estimated that out of the total penaeid shrimp harvested, ESBN comprises 55.87 per cent, the trawler fleet 29.70 per cent, MSBN 14.30 per cent beach seine 0.09 per cent and the pushnet only 0.04 per cent by weight. The same production if converted into number shows a reversed situation i.e. the trawler fleet takes only 1 per cent, ESBN 3.4 per cent and the pushnetters alone take 94.6 per cent (Khan, 1994). Thus it is evident that the enhanced production in the trawl fishery largely depends not on the trawl fishery alone but on the management of the three artisanal fisheries.

6.2 Reduction of fishing effort in the ESBN fishery

6.2.1 Rehabilitation of ESBN fisherfolk
6.2.2 Area and seasonal closure in ESBN operation

As a regulatory approach, a 30 mm codend mesh size regulation was introduced in the ordinance (not enforced) for ESBN, assuming that the juveniles would escape. But with the availability of valid scientific information now, it is evident that this gear targeted the juveniles and that increased mesh size virtually results in no catch (Hansen and Mustafa, 1992). So there is no alternative to complete withdrawal of this gear from the estuarine environment.

6.2.1 Rehabilitation of ESBN fisherfolk

Overnight withdrawal of this gear would not be possible, as it would force 50,000 fisherfolk, who live below the poverty line, into starvation. So, alternate employment, to ensure their livelihood, needs be identified inside or outside the fisheries sector. New fisheries development and expansion of the presently sustainable fisheries with the direct participation of ESBN fisherfolk would be necessary.

6.2.2 Area and seasonal closure in ESBN operation

Gradual withdrawal of effort in the fishery needs to be pursued. As a first step, closure of fishing during the peak recruitment periods, i.e. July to September and February to April in the Cox's Bazar area would substantially reduce the juvenile mortality, since the Cox's Bazar district alone accounts for 46 per cent of the total destruction (Khan et al, 1994) of juvenile penaeid shrimp.

6.3 Banning of particular fishing gear

Large mesh driftnets (LMD) have been operated in the Cox's Bazar region for the last two decades, targeting the Indian Salmon (Lakhua) and Long Jewfish (Lambu). These species have been fished so much that they are nearly extinct now. So, use of this gear needs to be stopped for a few years and the situation monitored. Beach seine in estuaries should be banned.

6.4 Diversification of fishing method and reduction of mortality in shrimp PL fishery

6.4.1 Selective collection of tiger shrimp PL
6.4.2 Reduction of induced mortality of PL
6.4.3 Rapid development of Bagda hatcheries

Since the valuable coastal shrimp culture industry is dependent on wild seed, in the absence of hatcheries, and since this industry earns more foreign exchange than the capture fishery at present, it may not be possible at this stage to stop this fishery. So, with a view to catalyze reduced collection from Nature, some management measures which can be undertaken are discussed below:

6.4.1 Selective collection of tiger shrimp PL

The by-catch in the Tiger shrimp PL fishery is about 200 billion plankton. These are destroyed, with no benefitters, and result in reduced standing stock in the sea year after year. An alternate method of collection must be tried, targetting only tiger shrimp PL. For example, a water hyacinth type of method may be experimented within which particular shrimp larvae will stick to a flora introduced. This will save much of the bycatch.

6.4.2 Reduction of induced mortality of PL

Upto 60 per cent of the PL collected from Nature die during sorting, transporting and stocking, forcing harvests of PL from Nature. If this mortality could be reduced substantially, 50 per cent of the PL could be left behind in the sea to give enhanced production. Strong extension and motivation campaigns are necessary for this.

PL's are overstocked in ponds for no substantial gain. So fishing for PL in the months other than the peak stocking season should be restricted.

6.4.3 Rapid development of Bagda hatcheries

At present, now 98 per cent of the shrimp culture industry is dependent on natural seed. Only two private hatcheries are in production. Many more hatcheries are needed to support the rapidly expanding culture industry. Transition to semi-intensive farming should not be permitted without the direct support of hatcheries. Otherwise both the goose and the golden eggs will undoubtedly disappear.

6.5 Expansion and extension of fisheries sustainability at present

6.5.1 Expansion and extension of the trammel net fishery
6.5.2 The Bottom Longline (BLL) fishery
6.5.3 Expansion of the marine behundi (MSBN) fishery

Some fisheries are at present biologically sustainable, but their distribution and the effort in them is limited. Expansion of these fisheries may give enhanced and sustainable production as well as create room for rehabilitation of the ESBN fisherfolk.

6.5.1 Expansion and extension of the trammel net fishery

The trammel net fishery has proved to be the biologically most sustainable fishery. At present this fishery is in operation at Teknaf coast only. Feasibility and technical demonstration of this gear in the western part of the coast may help expand this fishery in the other areas to produce more fish and would enhance economic as well as socio-economic benefits.

This gear is presently operated with traditional country boats and hence cannot go far. There is need to extend this fishery vertically upto 40 m depth of water and there is room for such expansion. But it would need study on the biological and economic feasibility and hopefully would add to the sustainable increase in production and would create an alternate source of income for the ESBN fisherfolk. Technological improvement may also be required.

6.5.2 The Bottom Longline (BLL) fishery

Bottom long lining for croaker off the Cox's Bazar coast has created a good employment opportunity for the fisherfolk in that area. This is an export oriented venture and very feasible (Huq et al. 1993). This fishery needs to be expanded in the other areas of the coast as a substitute employment for the ESBN fishermen, as well as to produce more fish.

6.5.3 Expansion of the marine behundi (MSBN) fishery

The marine behundi fishery is a seasonal activity and localized in Sonadia (Cox's Bazar), Dubla (Khulna) and Sonarchar (Patuakhali). This fishery catches a good percentage of pre-adult shrimps, but its target species is ribbonfish and Bombay Duck which are harvested mainly in the adult phase. Some of the larger ESBN may be encouraged to operate in deeper waters from other island bases (eg. St. Martin Island) with mechanized boats in order to reduce effort in the ESBN fishery.

This fishery has recently turned export-oriented and new-comers are joining in every year. It would be necessary to take immediate steps to stop new entry and utilize the space for partial rehabilitation of the ESBN fishery.

6.6 Management of the industrial trawl fishery

Optimum fishing effort for MSY is more than 7000 standard days, but the effort at present is at least 1000 days less than that. If the ten inefficient trawlers are made efficient, effort will be at optimum level or else new effort would need be added. One shrimp trawler is equivalent to 3.5 fish trawlers in terms of shrimp catch efficiency. So 1000 standard days is equivalent to four shrimp trawlers or 14 fish trawlers. If all the trawler effort is converted to finfish trawlers, it is estimated that the total production of both finfish and shrimp would be at MSY level. The benefit would be mainly in the assurance of landing all whitefish caught, because fish trawlers hardly make any discards. As a result, an additional amount of at least 50,000 t, of fish would be landed.

The present rule for season closure must be implemented to ensure breeding in the peak season and the 40 m depth zone restriction should be enforced strictly to facilitate post-juveniles being recruited as adults.

6.7 Prospect for development of new resources

Competition has increased over the years for investment in the demersal and artisanal fisheries sectors, both of which are already overburdened, while the pelagic resources, e.g. the Tuna and Tunalike fish resources have remained untapped. Hilsa is the only pelagic species categorized are present in the fish catch statistics of Bangladesh. Eight species of Tuna and Skipjack (Khan, 1983, 1995) and a number of potential species of Mackerels, Shark, Ray, Sardines, Anchovies, Shad and several species of cephalopods. Soles and flat-fish, lobster etc. are available in Bangladesh waters (Rahman et al., 1995). Development of these resources will open a new era for the Bangladesh fisheries sector, to boosting production sustainably. But a detailed survey and assessment of stock and MSY would be necessary, along with feasibility and technological demonstration, for transfer to the private sector.


Being encouraged by the positive indication of the yield as well as the belief revenue per recruit in the trammel and trawl fisheries that in the ESBN fisheries, a 'long-term prediction' analysis was done with a view to find the comparative economic gain from various fisheries if only one is allowed to operate and all the other fisheries are suppressed, or if only the ESBN is suppressed and the others allowed to operate as they are.

The analysis indicated that if the trawl fishery is kept and all other interactive fisheries (but not pushnet) are suppressed, there would be substantial gain in weight and about 300 per cent gain in value of the catch, while there would be 250 per cent gain in value of the catch. There would be 250 per cent gain in value of the catch if only ESBN fishery is not in operation.

On the other hand, trammelnet showed an extremely high gain (about ten times) in revenue when all fisheries (including trawlers, but not the pushnet fishery) are suppressed, but a smaller gain in yield and a large gain in revenue (300%) if only the ESBN is suppressed.

So, from different magnitude analyses, it is evident that withdrawal of the ESBN fishery would not only maintain a healthier stock but would give a substantial difference in economic return. The pushnet (larval) fishery was kept out of this analysis because data necessary for such analysis were not available. But since about 95 per cent of the exploited population is taken by the larval fishery alone, suppression of this fishery would definitely give a manifold higher economic return. This perception would definitely lead fishery managers/planners to avail of the opportunity to achieve manifold higher economic returns from the same stock by only changing the traditional fishing attitudes.


8.1 Marine Fisheries Ordinance 1983 and the present situation
8.2. The agencies and institutions involved in development and management of the marine fisheries resources
8.3 Infrastructure and service facilities
8.4 Institutional strength for fisheries development, management and research

8.1 Marine Fisheries Ordinance 1983 and the present situation

In 1983, the Government of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh enacted the Marine Fisheries Rules, 1983, in accordance with the provisions of the Marine Fisheries Ordinance, 1983. Under the provisions of the Ordinance, the Marine Fisheries Wing of the DOF is authorized to deal with matters relating to marine fisheries exploitation, including licensing and monitoring of operations of fishing vessels. The Marine Fisheries Rules amended in 1993 provide for licensing and monitoring of artisanal mechanized fishing boats as well. Under the Ordinance, the officers of the Marine Wing of the DOF have been empowered to check, seize or take appropriate action required for surveillance and enforcement of the rules of the Ordinance. These activities are performed from the Marine Fisheries checkpost established under the DOF Marine Wing at Patenga bay front, Chittagong.

The Ministry of Industry is currently authorized to accord permission in consultation with the MOFL, for the acquisition of fishing trawlers. The mechanized fishing vessels are registered with the Mercantile Marine Department (MMD). To patrol the EEZ, the DOF has procured two modem gunboats and placed them under the operational control of the Bangladesh Navy. Besides the MOFL, other ministries directly involved are the Ministry of Land, Ministry of Industries, LGRD and MOEF.

8.2. The agencies and institutions involved in development and management of the marine fisheries resources

Fisheries administration and management primarily remain under the control of the MOFL, headed by a cabinet minister. The Department of Fisheries (DOF) is the key organization responsible for development and management of fisheries. The Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation (BFDC) was established in 1964 with a view to promoting the fishing industry and developing landing, preservation and processing facilities, particularly in the marine sector. A part of the survey and exploratory work was once included in the mandate of the BFDC, but is now carried out by the Marine Fishery Survey Project, DOF.

The Fisheries Research Institute (FRI) was established in 1984, as an autonomous body under the administrative control of the MOFL. Research stations and ancillary facilities of the DOF were, subsequently, transferred to the FRI by an administrative order of the Government. The mandate of the FRI is to plan and undertake adaptive research programmes to develop suitable technology for fish farmers and fishery managers (Rahman, 1993). But survey work producing information on resource monitoring and management remains with the DOF for practical reasons. This work is at present done by a permanent set up of the DOF, called the Marine Fishery Resources Management and Monitoring unit. The unit is based in Chittagong and has two marine and brackishwater research vessels and other equipments.

Several NGOs and fishermen's cooperatives are involved in marine fisheries development activities in the country. The Bangladesh Jatiyo Matshyajibi Samabay Samity (BJMSS), for example, had direct involvement in marine fisheries development, but is now ineffective. Among the NGOs, Codec, Caritas, and Proshika-MUK are directly involved in the development of the coastal fisherfolk community.

8.3 Infrastructure and service facilities

Infrastructural and service facilities are inadequate. In the absence of proper landing centres artisanal fishermen land their catches at scattered places which do not have processing, marketing or fast transportation facilities. Only the industrial trawler fleet (public and private) lands at defined places. Some of the mechanized boats catching Hilsa land at a few landing centres of the BFDC. The other private landing places do not have adequate ice, freshwater, berthing bunkering facilities. The BFDC operates four landing centres, in Cox's Bazar, Khulna, Barisal and Patuakhali. It has modem landing, preservation, ice, water, berthing and bunkering facilities at Chittagong when it uses it for its own fleet. It also extends services to private operators. Such landing centres need be developed in every coastal district and in other important landing areas.

8.4 Institutional strength for fisheries development, management and research

The DOF Marine Wing has two establishments. One is for survey and monitoring and to provide management information. But its few scientific staff are hardly enough to carry out the task of operating two research vessels as well as do land-based work for routine collection and processing of industrial, semi-industrial and artisanal, statistical and biological data. The other establishment is the law enforcement and legislative unit. This too does not have adequate manpower or training to undertake its task along the entire coastline, particularly in respect of the marine artisanal fishing operations. The BFDC's activities have been reduced over the last decade and it now maintains only the previously established facilities, which provide hardly any opportunities for further development. The FRI has two stations for marine and brackishwater research, one in Cox's Bazar and the other in Paikgacha, Khulna. The scientific staff is limited, and inadequate training and exposure limit proper programmes for marine and brackishwater research.


9.1 Need for revision of the rules of the Marine Fisheries Ordinance 1983
9.2 Other related matters which interfere with resource management and surveillance work

9.1 Need for revision of the rules of the Marine Fisheries Ordinance 1983

The Marine Fisheries Ordinance and subsequent rules were prepared more than a decade ago. Since then, more knowledge about the exploitation dynamics of marine fishery resources has been gathered. In the light of this knowledge and the changes in fishing pressure, as discussed in the text, certain amendments in the rules are called for.

- The provision exists (although not enforced) for a 30 mm codend mesh size limit for ESBN. At present, 8-12 mm mesh is used. Results of recent experimentation and investigation reveal that, the 30 mm codend would bring in no catch, as they target the juvenile. Further it will be non-remunerative for the fisherfolk and will also involve further cash investment for change with no benefit to, the fishers. So mesh size increase or improvement of gear design would not be helpful for management (Hansen and Mustafa, 1992). This is why the complete withdrawal of this gear from the estuarine habitat is necessary. This needs be included in the Marine Fisheries Rules.

- As an immediate measure for reduction of effort, ESBN operations in the Cox's Bazar district should be stopped during the July-September, and February-April period.

- Operation of LMD in shallow waters should be banned until further orders.

- The marine set bagnet should use 45mm codend mesh size.

- Net making/mending factories should produce nets not below 45mm mesh and they should be encouraged to make nets suitable for trammelnetting.

- Limitations should be imposed on the boatbuilding yards not to build boats (mechanized) for fisheries without the permission of the Government.

- Aging shrimp trawlers should not be replaced with shrimp trawlers, but with fish trawlers, in the light of the discussions in the text. (It was also a recommendation of the FAO/BOBP Seminar at Cox's Bazar, 1992).

- Rule 7, Clause h: (landing of 30 per cent of the total catch) is rather a vague term and also a very small figure. It needs to be replaced as "50 per cent of the fish catch, equivalent to five times of the shrimp catch", because a shrimp trawler's finfish by-catch is 8-10 times its shrimp catch.

- Rule 6 prescribes the licence fee for fishing vessels. Fees for resource monitoring and management (including operation of research vessels) should also be included, as this is now a routine and continuing programme under the revenue budget. Some recompense should now come from the beneficiaries.

9.2 Other related matters which interfere with resource management and surveillance work

Other management and legislative measures which are not under the direct control of the DOF/MOFL need interministerial and interdepartmental decisions and arrangements. Some of these measures which deserve special attention are discussed here.

- There are waterbodies under the control and ownership of the ministries other than fisheries. Some of these waterbodies/areas are directly 'managed' by administrative units such as the Ministry of Land, Department of Forests, and MOEF. These are revenue oriented managements which collect produce or lease the water areas. But since fisheries resources are a living renewable resource, biological management, based on research findings and scientific information, would be necessary, irrespective of which agency/organization owns the land, water or the fish. The Department of Fisheries must be entrusted with the responsibility for such management because it also has the capability to handle fisheries-oriented duties.

As discussed earlier, various water development activities have altered much of the ecological habitat concerning fisheries, so any development or management activity (non-biological) in such waterbodies, for purposes other than fisheries, should be done only in close consultation with the MOFL/DOF to ensure a healthy environment for the growth of the fish population. A high power steering committee for Integrated Coastal Zone Management, with a respected position for MoFL/DOF, needs to be established.

- To minimize the degradation of the coastal environment by industrial, agrochemical, oil and other pollution, integrated research - to qualify and quantify the toxic effect on fish - needs be undertaken immediately. Such research should identify the pesticides which are not water soluble or do not have a toxic effect on aquatic life and limit the other brands of fertilizer and pesticides. Waste treatment facilities need be established in the coastal districts and rules need be reformulated to take care of aquatic life. Legislation must be improved. Co-ordination is necessary between the MoFL and MOEF.

- Mangrove afforestration programmes should be undertaken jointly by the DOF and DOF (Forest) to save the environment from further degradation.

- In the Marine Fisheries Ordinance subsequent rules have been made for licensing of artisanal fishing boats by the DOF. The Mercantile Marine Department (MMD) deals with the registration. But it is evident that all boats are not registered and there is no enforcement to make them comply The MMD also looks after the safety of life at sea and issues vessel health certificates after checking the safety equipment. Fishermen, it is reported, are not interested in observing formalities of registration and licensing with two similar departments. The DOF has the capability to check craft health and safety equipment. The two functions need to be put under the DOF for easy monitoring and enforcement.

- There are gear and area conflicts between artisanal and industrial fishermen. There are reports of sea piracy and resource use conflicts. The Coast Guard is required to solve these problems.


10.1 Department of Fisheries (DOF)
10.2 Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation (BFDC)
10.3 Fisheries Research Institute (FRI)
10.4 Need for marine and brackishwater fishery research and coordination

Resources survey, research, monitoring, surveillance and management in the area of marine fishries is a very big task, involving activities not only within the sector but also with other sectors. So the capabilities of the organizations under the MOFL, particularly in respect of marine and brackishwater fisheries, need to be strengthened greatly.

10.1 Department of Fisheries (DOF)

The DOF performs two main functions in respect of marine fisheries viz:

- It does resource assessment, monitoring of the fishing dynamics and stock assessment for sustainable gear development and expansion. The findings of this routine work enables the DOF to offer continuous advice to fisheries planners on the options and strategies for management available to them.

- The DOF implements and enforces the rules under the Marine Fisheries Ordinance 1983. To do this, the DOF has two units, but these are managed by a limited scientific and enforcement staff, which is inadequate for the present task, leave alone any expansion in the future.

The Marine Fisheries Resources, Monitoring and Management Centre has recently decided to established a permanent set-up. The proposal document identifies some urgent programmes for facilities and manpower that will enable the entire coastline, as well as the EEZ to be covered. Implementation of the proposal will help strengthen the resource assessment and management capacity of this centre. At present the DD(M) is given the task of licensing mechanized boats, but its manpower is inadequate for the job. To date, only 1000 boats have been licensed, licences for the rest are delayed due to shortage of manpower. A separate directorate of marine fisheries would be needed to enhance the expansion and comprehensive planning of the marine fisheries sector. The FAO proposal for marine wing strengthening may be reviewed and considered. The proposal identifies the manpower and facilities required to strengthen the marine wing of the DOF.

10.2 Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation (BFDC)

Once, the BFDC was a very capable and active organization. It was virtually the major contributor to the development, modernization and industrialization of marine fisheries. Over the years, however, its activities have been reduced. But the recent construction by BFDC of a most modem mechanized boat landing centre in Chittagong (Manoharkhali) with landing, marketing, bunkering and berthing facilities, is considered an important contribution to marine fisheries. Two more landing centres of this type, one at Khulna and the other at Barisal are necessary. In addition to BFDC's four landing centres in Cox's Bazar, Khulna, Barisal and Patuakhali, landing centres with facilities for berthing, bunkering, ice, water and preservation, should be established in each coastal district. These landing centres can house a unit of the DOF Marine Wing for catch monitoring and data collection and to serve as a checkpost. After such development, all mechanized boats should be asked to land their catches at designated landing centres. If such centre facilities are available the boats would be happy to follow the rules imposed. In this regard, Government should consider extending help for the modernization of some of the busier private landing centres particularly those under the BJMSS. It should also establish checkposts at these landing centres.

The only industrial fisheries landing centre is the BFDC's and it is known as the Chittagong fish harbour. It was started with the most modern facilities for its own fleet as well as for private trawlers. But the basin is now silted up, and, as a result, easy movement of vessels has become a problem. It needs thorough dredging every year to keep it workable. Major excavation and modification is required for free water movement to lower the siltation rate. This basin should be reconstructed for multipurpose functions, such as to serve as a beaching yard for seized foreign trawlers and as a cyclone shelter for public as well as private trawlers, in addition to its primary objectives. The Chittagong fish harbour has good facilities for a marine workshop and slipway for docking trawlers and other vessels. These facilities are at present being utilized on a reduced scale. They too need strengthening and modernization.

10.3 Fisheries Research Institute (FRI)

The FRI Brackishwater Station, Paikgacha, Khulna, and the Marine Fisheries Research Station at Cox's Bazar were established to undertake brackishwater and marine fisheries research, respectively, with a view to generating basic scientific information to feed back to the stock assessment programme and enable management and development of the two fisheries. But due to inadequacy of scientific staff and lack of training in these fields the research programmes have greatly suffered, and the institute, particularly the Marine Fisheries Station, has not been able to launch an openwater research programme to fulfil the objectives desired.

Initially (as per the Project Proposal - PP of FRI) the marine fisheries research establishment of the DOF at Chittagong and Cox's Bazar were supposed to be transferred to the FRI Marine Fisheries Technological Station, Cox's Bazar, with all manpower and facilities. This was only partly implemented, i.e. the Cox's Bazar campus including the laboratory and functional building of DOF, was transferred to the FRI. It should be mentioned that the DOF has no laboratory and functional building of its own in Chittagong. There probably remained a gap in the PP about the need for all establishments of the DOF marine survey and research, including the research vessels, equipment and manpower, to be transferred to the FRI, whereas the need for the DOF for a unit for marine resources survey and stock monitoring for instant management advice, was not felt during the preparation of the PP and, hence, the execution suffered. Thus the FRI was put into a difficult situation, for it could neither avail of the DOF's research vessel and trained manpower nor could it provide in the PP for its own set of research vessels, equipment and facilities. So the whole programme suffered badly.

10.4 Need for marine and brackishwater fishery research and coordination

The basic and adaptive research pertaining to generating information for fishery management is the mandate of the FRI, while the stock monitoring survey, the catch assessment survey, diversified development support experimentation, and extension work lie with the DOF. Considering that the DOF would need the scientific staff and the research vessels and equipment for the stock monitoring survey and to generate routine advice as a continuous process for management dynamics, the FRI would need to establish a substation of its marine station in Chittagong, and procure oceanographic research vessels and equipment. A few DOF marine fishery biologists could be transferred to FRI on deputation for a limited period to initiate the openwater research programme.

It is necessary to identify the right work of both organizations to avoid the duplication observed an present. Oceanographic work and correlation with fishery abundance and biodiversity should be considered as an important task of the FRI.

The FRI needs to undertake studies on fisheries biology, fish distribution, migration and fish behaviour. Research on the selective collection of bagda fry and the causes and rate of fry mortality are essential.

Hatcheries are suffering from broodstock supply even though at present, broodstock is protected during the spawning season by rule. The point is the demand for brood is going to be very high. Research should be launched to produce broodstock under captive conditions, pollution and toxicity studies should be started and a socioeconomic survey of the fisherfolk community should be undertaken and the means of uplifting their socioeconomic condition through biologically and environmentally sustainable processes identified. NGOs could be involved in this work. The results of the study should be communicated to the DOF for extension work and for transfer of the technology to the private sector and to the fishermen.


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