Bangladesh is a densely populated country of 147 570 km2 with a population of 130 million people. It is fortunate in having an extensive water resource in the form of ponds, natural depressions (haors and beels ), lakes, canals, rivers and estuaries covering an area of 4.56 million ha (DoF, 2005).
Bangladesh is one of the world's leading inland fisheries producer with a production of 1 646 819 tonnes during 2003–4, with marine catch total of 455 601 tonnes and a total production from aquaculture of 914 752 tonnes during 2003–4. Bangladesh's total fish production for the year totaled above 2.1 million tonnes (DoF, 2005). FAO (2005) ranked Bangladesh as sixth largest aquaculture producing country with its estimated production of 856 956 tonnes in 2003 (FAO, 2005). Aquaculture accounted for about 43.5 percent of the total fish production during 2003–4, with inland open water fisheries contributed 34.8 percent (DoF, 2005).
The present per capita annual fish consumption in Bangladesh stands at about 14 kg/year against a recommended minimum requirement of 18 kg/year; hence there is still need to improve fish consumption in the country.
Fisheries in Bangladesh are diverse, there are about 795 native species of fish and shrimp in the fresh and marine waters of Bangladesh and 12 exotic species that have been introduced. In addition, there are 10 species of pearl bearing bivalves, 12 species of edible tortoise and turtle, 15 species of crab and 3 species of lobster.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MoFL), Department of Fisheries (DoF), Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation (BFDC) and the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI) are the main organisations responsible for aquaculture and its development. Universities, organisations within other ministries and local and international NGOs are also involved in this area.
The origin and development of aquaculture practices in Bangladesh are not well documented; historically the country's natural water bodies were stocked during the monsoon season through natural spawning. Fish farming had been a traditional practice dating back several centuries to when the country was ruled by Hindu kings. Many of the kings used to create ponds and tanks for drinking, bathing and sometimes for small-scale irrigation, these ponds and tanks were also used for rearing fish although more from a recreation aspect than for any commercial purpose.
It was one Dr. Nazir Ahmed (1947–1960), the then Director of Fisheries in East Pakistan who laid the formal foundation for fish culture in ponds and lakes within Bangladesh. Dr. Ahmed worked keenly on the development of large scale carp culture in ponds and lakes and by the late sixties and early seventies some progress had been made in this area. In the late sixties Ali (1967) successfully carried out induced breeding of Indian major carp species using carp pituitary gland extracts, over the last few decades, however, natural breeding grounds and fish habitats in Bangladesh have been degraded considerably by the development of flood control measures which, as a consequence, have resulted in a decline in natural fish production. As a result government, NGOs and private entrepreneurs have come forward to develop improved fish culture techniques especially in ponds and lakes.
On the basis of habitat you can classify two types of aquaculture being carried out in Bangladesh; freshwater and coastal aquaculture; there is no marine aquaculture production currently. Freshwater aquaculture comprises mainly pond aquaculture especially the polyculture of both native and exotic species; on the other hand, coastal aquaculture is comprised mainly of shrimp farming.
In Bangladesh, aquaculture production systems are mainly extensive and extended extensive, with some semi-intensive and in very few cases intensive systems. Although the culture fishery contributes over 55 percent of inland fish production, it covers only about 11percent of the total inland water resources. But the annual production are still low, 2 609 kg/ha for ponds and ditches, 780 kg/ha for oxbow lakes and 565 kg/ha for coastal aquaculture, although the potentialities are much higher. Nevertheless, over last ten years, yield from closed water aquaculture has been increasing steadily.
Indigenous freshwater carps (22 percent) and exotic carps (10 percent) from both the farming and capture sectors are the primary contributors to total production (Azim et al ., 2002); other freshwater fish include catfish, snakeheads and small indigenous species. However, carp polyculture in ponds is more productive, capital intensive and is a more profitable activity when compared to the other culture systems.
Table 1. Comparison of the profitability between different types of aquaculture production systems in Bangladesh (ICLARM, 2002)
Feed and labor comprise the two most important components of the total operating cost for most culture systems in Bangladesh, each accounting for approximately 20 percent and 17 percent, respectively of the total operating costs.
The species cultured in the coastal regions of Bangladesh include mainly tiger prawn but also prawn, brown shrimp, white shrimp, mud crab, giant seaperch and yellow tail mullet.
Fisheries and aquaculture play a major role in nutrition, employment and foreign exchange earnings with about 12 million people are associated with the fisheries sector, of which 1.4 million people rely exclusively on fisheries related activities (Shah, 2003). An estimated 9.5 million people (73 percent) are involved in subsistence fisheries on the country's flood plains (Azim et al ., 2002), the number of fishermen increases dramatically to 11 million between June to October each year. There are 3.08 million fish farmers, 1.28 million inland fishermen and 0.45 million fry collectors (fish and shrimp) in Bangladesh (DOF, 2003) and it is estimated that fisheries and related activities support more than 7 percent of the country's population.
Currently, more than 600 000 people are engaged in shrimp farming activities (Karim, 2003), it is also estimated that around 14 000 fishermen (2.5 fishers per ha water body) are directly involved and 70 000 rural people are the direct beneficiaries of oxbow lake fisheries (Hasan, 2001a; Hasan and Talukdar, 2004). In both aquaculture and fisheries activities it is the male members of the family who carry out almost all of the work in Bangladesh, very recently however a few women have been encouraged to participate through the motivation of NGOs and some private entrepreneurs. Thengamara Mahila Sabuj Sangha is a woman's NGO which is actively engaged in aquaculture development activities.
Table 2. Freshwater pond farming systems as defined in the context of Bangladesh
Source: Modified from Hasan (2001b)
There are an estimated 1.3 million fish ponds in the country, covering an area of 0.151 million ha, of which 55.30 percent is cultured, 28.52 percent is culturable and 16.18 percent is unused. In 2002 the percentage of production from the above three systems was 72.09, 20.01 and 7.90 respectively (BBS, 2002). In general the size of fish ponds varies between 0.020 and 20 ha with an average of 0.30 ha. In Bangladesh, the highest number of ponds exists in the Barisal district (12.11percent), followed by Comilla (9.36 percent), Sylhet (9.10 percent), Chittagong (8.02 percent) and Noakhali (7.75 percent) (BBS, 2002).
Historically people depended mainly on natural waters for supplies of fish; but as a result of declining catches of wild fish due to an increased fishing effort by the growing population as well as environmental degradation, people began to culture fish in enclosed waters. The polyculture of major and exotic carps and monoculture of striped catfish (Pangasius hypophthalmus ), Nile tilapia and Java barb (Barbonymus gonionotus ) and to some extent catfish (Clarias batrachus ) are the most widely practiced culture system in Bangladesh. Three Indian major carps namely, Labeo rohita , Catla catla and Cirrhinus mrigala and one exotic carp, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix now account for more than 78 percent of total pond production (ICLARM, 2002). However, carp polyculture at the individual small holder level has the greatest potential for expansion since it can, through the implementation of more intensive culture systems including the application of fertilisers, use of supplemental feeding and improved management practices (Gupta et al ., 1999), provide a significant potential increase in income, by as much as 57 percent or US$ 717/ha, this is more than the other culture practices in use (DoF, 2003). At present annual average fish production using pond culture is 2 609 kg/ha (DoF, 2005).
Shrimp farming in the south and southeastern coastal belt of Bangladesh began in the early 1970s. From less than 20 000 ha of brackishwater ponds in 1980, the area under cultivation expanded to approximately 140 000 ha by 1995 (Wahab, 2003). The last complete survey to estimate the total area under shrimp cultivation was carried out in 1993–94; it has not been updated since then. DoF (2005) estimated that the total area under farming has expanded to 203 071 ha in 2003–2004. The major shrimp producing districts are Bagerhat, Satkhira, Pirojpur, Khulan, Cox's Bazar and Chittagong, recently farmers especially in the Bagerhat and Pirojpur districts have begun shrimp farming in their paddy fields. Traditionally shrimp farming began by trapping tidal waters in nearby coastal enclosures known as 'gher' where no feed, fertilisers or other inputs were applied, with an increasing demand from both national and international markets farmers started to switch over into improved extensive and semi-intensive systems.
Semi intensive farming began in 1993 in the Cox's Bazar region, with this system ponds were stocked with 10–35 post larvae (PL)/m2 using supplemental pellet feed but without reservoir tanks. The first outbreak of a viral epidemic in shrimp farms occurred in 1994 in semi intensive farms in the Cox's Bazar region (Larkins, 1995; Karim and Stellwagen, 1998). In 1996 it was discovered to have spread to other coastal districts affecting extensive shrimp farms (Karim and Stellwagen, 1998). In 2001, the disease once again caused the collapse of shrimp production in both the Cox's Bazar and Khulna regions, the disease has not yet been completely eradicated and can still cause havoc for shrimp producers.
Shrimp farming is a capital intensive business with total production costs of US$ 735 per ha/crop for extensive system, US$ 1 837 per ha/crop for improved traditional systems and US$ 9 184 per ha/crop for semi intensive systems, the corresponding net income however is US$ 1 275, US$ 2 204 and US$ 153 061 per ha/crop respectively (ICLARM, 2002).
Fish culture in cages
Cage culture was introduced into Bangladesh in the late 1970s on an experimental basis, a series of experiments were conducted at the Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) (Hasan et al ., 1982, Ahmed et al ., 1984 and Ahmed et al ., 1997) which demonstrated the potential of cage aquaculture. The Department of Fisheries conducted a cage culture project in Kaptai lake during 1985–86 achieving a production of 6 900 tonnes of fish (Hasan, 1990). CARE, an international NGO, initiated a project at the end of 1995 until 2000, supported by the Department for International Development (DFID) named Cage Aquaculture for Greater Economic Security (CAGES). Due to the high initial cost of inputs and the comparatively complex management technology required cage culture is yet to become popular among the farmers.
Integrated fish farming
The integration of aquaculture with duck and chicken production was begun experimentally at the BFRI, Mymensingh producing some promising results. The project demonstrated that 500 khaki Campbell ducks can be profitably raised on a 1 ha carp pond while also producing 4.5 tonnes/ha of fish without any additional need for supplementary feed or fertiliser for the fish. The most promising integrated farming in Bangladesh however, is rice fish culture, Ameen (1987) reported on the technique from many parts of Bangladesh. Traditionally one or more sump pond(s) are constructed at the lowest corner of the paddy field where fish accumulate as the water level reduces, thus fish are harvested from the sump without any additional stocking or management practices being required. In an experiment, Islam and Ahmed (1982) obtained 346 kg fish in 4 months by stocking minor carp, catfish, climbing perch and common carp in a rice field, on the other hand, Ameen (1987) reported an example where approximately 457 kg fish/ha and 6 kg prawn/ha were harvested in 131–175 days.
Fish culture in ox-bow lakes
The most successful example of culture based fisheries has been accomplished in oxbow lakes located in Southwest Bangladesh (Hasan and Middendrop, 1998, Hasan, 2001a). There are approximately 600 oxbow lakes in Bangladesh with an estimated water area of 5 488 ha (DoF, 2003). Most of these oxbow lakes are located in five districts of southwest Bangladesh (Khulna division: Jessore, Jhinaidah, Chuadanga and Kushtia districts and Dhaka division: Faridpur district). Twenty-three of these lakes were brought under a culture based fisheries management through the Oxbow Lakes Project (OLP II, 1997). The average production reported for oxbow lakes fishery during 2003–2004 is 780 kg/ha (DoF, 2005).
Fish farming in Kaptai Lake
The Kaptai Lake (latitude 22°22'-23°18' N; longitude 92°00'-92°26'E) was created in 1961 by damming the river Karnaphuli at Kaptai in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. It covers an area of approximately 68 800 ha, initially the lake operated a capture only fishery, however, a regular stocking program of about 35 tonnes of carp juveniles per annum is now carried out as a part of a fisheries management program. The species used for stocking are the three major carps and exotic carps (silver, grass and common carps) (ARG, 1986; Rahman and Hasan, 1992), the lake also contains 76 other freshwater fish species, of which 68 are indigenous and the rest are exotic, in addition, there are also a few species of freshwater prawn. Initially the indigenous major carps dominated the catch with about 81percent in 1965/66 however during the course of the last 38 years this percentage has declined to about 5 percent while the production of small forage fish has increased to currently stand at 90 percent of the total catch (Alamgir, 2004). Annual revenue from earnings from fishing in the lake currently is approximately US$ 0.42 million (Alamgir, 2004).
A total of 260 fish species have been recorded in the freshwaters of Bangladesh (Rahman, 1989) of these it is estimated that about 200 species are truly freshwater while the rest are examples of estuarine and marine species.
Of these 200 species, 59 belong to 20 families that are commercially important, the majority of which are carps and catfish. At present, major carps such as Catla catla , Labeo rohita , Cirrhinus mrigala and Labeo calbasu along with exotic carps such as silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix ); grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus ) and common carp (Cyprinus carpio ) are cultured in polyculture system in ponds. There are also not less than 40–50 small indigenous fish species which grow to a maximum length of 25 cm (Felts et al ., 1996), some of the more commonly found species include Puntius ticto , Amblypharyngodon mola , Colisa lalius , Anabas testudineus and Glossogobius giuris . IUCN (2001) reported that many of the small indigenous fish are now critically endangered or endangered.
Indian major carps and exotic carps are the most commonly stocked species in Kaptai Lake and in oxbow lakes. Haroon et al . (2002) reported a total of 92 species of fish and prawn from the Sylhet-Mynensingh basin of Bangladesh. Brackishwater giant tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon ) and giant river prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii ) are the main cultured species in coastal areas (Azim et al ., 2002).
Polyculture of native and exotic carps is a popular technology used by many farmers throughout the country, in such systems pond preparation, species selection, stocking density, the application of feed, fertilisers, water exchange and proper husbandry are generally maintained.
In general fish culture in Bangladesh is characterised by the use of both extensive and semi-intensive systems.
Brackishwater shrimps are reared in coastal polders or by constructing embankments and using traditional trapping techniques utilising tidal water exchange (FAO/UNDP, 1985), in some areas the land is used in rotation for rice / shrimp and salt / shrimp production.
The low-lying paddy fields, salt pans and tidal ponds are enriched with earthen dykes containing box sluices to allow the entry and exit of water. Juvenile fish and shrimp which enter with the tidal waters are reared extensively without feed or additional husbandry resulting in an average harvestable production of only around 300 kg/ha (Mazid, 2002). However, semi-intensive farming which began from 1993 onwards has produced an increase in production.
Total fish production by Bangladesh in 2003 amounted to 2 102 026 tonnes (DoF, 2005) of which 914 752 tonnes or 43.5 percent was produced by the aquaculture sector. Production from ponds and ditches totaled 795 810 tonnes, coastal aquaculture (shrimp and fish ponds) 114 660 tonnes, Kaptai lake 7 238 tonnes and from oxbow lakes 4 282 tonnes (DoF, 2005). Aquaculture production in Bangladesh has increased 6–8 percent per annum during the period 1991–2002 (Ahmed, 2003).
The graph below shows total aquaculture production in Bangladesh according to FAO statistics:
In general fish markets in Bangladesh are situated in both rural and urban areas, they tend to be unhygienic, unscientific, dirty and operate using weak management systems. Approximately 97 percent of the inland fish production is marketed internally for domestic consumption while the remaining 3 percent is exported (Hasan, 2001a).
A large number of people are involved in the fish marketing chain and include farmers, processors, traders, intermediaries, day laborers and transporters (DFID, 1997 and Kleih, 2001).
Four categories of markets are involved in the distribution of fish, these are: primary markets, secondary markets (assembly markets), higher secondary markets (wholesale markets) and central markets. Locally these steps in the chain are known as: Fisherman Nikary (collector), Chalani (transporter), Aratdars (wholesaler), Paiker (retailer) and consumer (Alam, 2002). The market chain defined for freshwater prawn from producer to consumer are the field workers, prawn traders, agents and processing companies (Ahmed et al . 2004). A fish farmer receives 56 percent of the price paid by the final consumer, in other words 44 percent of the retail price is taken by the various intermediaries (Alam, 2002).
The country's main exportable product is frozen shrimp, other exported products include frozen fish, frozen frog, dry fish, salted fish, turtles, crabs, shark fins and fish maws (dried fish swim bladders) (DoF, 2003).
Of the total available fish and fishery products for export 30.06 percent is exported to USA, 48.51percent to European countries, 9.32 percent to Japan and the remainder to Thailand and Middle Eastern countries (Hossain, 2003).
Both fisheries and aquaculture in Bangladesh play a major role in alleviating protein deficiency and malnutrition, in generating employment and foreign exchange earnings. Moreover, the fisheries sector contributes 5.10 percent, of the country's export earnings, 4.91percent of its GDP and provides 63 percent of the national animal protein consumption (DoF, 2003.) Fish and fishery products are the country's third largest export commodity contributing 5.10 percent of its exchange earnings, in 2002–2003 Bangladesh earned US$ 324 million of which shrimp alone contributed 72 percent of the total by quantity and 89 percent by value (DoF, 2003).
The following institutional bodies are involved in aquaculture and fisheries in Bangladesh:
The basic act regulating inland fisheries is the Protection and Conservation of Fish Act (1950) , as amended by the Protection and Conservation (Amendment) Ordinance (1982) and implemented by the Protection and Conservation of Fish Rules (1985) . The Marine Fisheries Ordinance (1983) , as implemented by the Marine Fisheries Rules (1983) , is the basic act regulating marine fisheries. Although the basic fisheries legislation does not have separate sections on aquaculture, some of its provisions are relevant to the subject. The Protection and Conservation of Fish Rules, for instance, specifically deal with the protection of certain carp species, prohibit certain activities to facilitate their augmentation and production and stipulate that licenses for their catch shall only be issued for purposes of aquaculture. In Bangladesh, seeding is traditionally by wild post larval and juvenile shrimps, or fish fry, which are trapped in ponds during tidal exchanges or which are gathered from the estuaries in the vicinity and used to stock the ponds. In recognition of the fact that fry collection from nature may result in long term ecological destruction, in 2000 the government - reportedly - prohibited the collection of fry or post larvae of fish, shrimp and prawns of any kind, in any form and in any way in estuary and coastal waters.
Other legislation that is relevant to aquaculture includes the Tanks Improvement Act (1939) , which provides for the improvement of tanks for irrigation and aquaculture purposes. The Shrimp Culture Users Tax Ordinance (1992) stipulates that shrimp cultivation areas developed by the government by construction of embankments, excavation of canals or other water management structures shall be liable to payment of tax. In addition to these laws, aquaculture, and the conditions of its development, are affected by a variety of other laws, such as land laws, water laws and environmental regulations.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MoFL), through its Department of Fisheries (D0F), has overall responsibility for fisheries and aquaculture development, management and conservation. Its functions, which are both regulatory and development oriented, are defined in Schedule 1 of the Rules of Business (1975) and include, inter alia , the preparation of schemes and the coordination of national policy in respect of fisheries, the prevention of fish disease, the conservation, management and development of fisheries resources, the management of fish farms and training and collection of information. The activities of DoF are supported by the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI), which is responsible for fisheries research and its coordination. In addition, the Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation (BFDC), established under the Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation Act (1973) , supports DoF in developing the fishing industry. Functions of BFDC include, inter alia, the establishment of units for fishing and for the preservation, processing, distribution and marketing of fish and fishery products.
In 1998, a National Fisheries Policy was adopted to develop and increase fish production through optimum utilization of resources, to meet the demand for animal protein, to promote economic growth and earn foreign currency through export of fish and fishery products, to alleviate poverty by creating opportunities for self-employment and by improving socio-economic conditions of fisher folk, and to preserve environmental balance, biodiversity and improve public health. The Policy extends to all government organizations involved in fisheries and to all water bodies used for fisheries. It includes separate policies for inland closed water fish culture and for coastal shrimp and fish culture. The Policy touches on many contentious issues. For instance, it addresses conflicts over shrimp cultivation and underscores the need for formulation of suitable guidelines. To help conservation efforts, it prescribes a moratorium on further cutting of mangrove for shrimp cultivation. It also supports an integrated culture of fish, shrimp and paddy in paddy fields. In addition, the Policy deals with many other relevant issues such as quality control, industrial pollution and the use of land.
For more information on aquaculture legislation in Bangladesh please click on the following link:
National Aquaculture Legislation Overview - Bangladesh
Experts from the DoF, BFRI, universities and NGOs develop research ideas and agree priorities through detailed discussion in workshops, the selected research topics are then sent to the MoFL for approval and execution. The main task of conducting applied and adaptive research has been bestowed upon the BFRI although universities are also involved. The Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) is the national body for coordinating, monitoring and evaluating all aquaculture research, in addition international organisations such as CIRDAP, FAO, DFID, Danida, World Bank, CIDA, IDRC and World Fish Center are also involved in action oriented research programs related to aquaculture in Bangladesh.
Formal fisheries education and research first began at the Faculty of Fisheries, Bangladesh Agricultural University in Mymensingh in 1967, the faculty offers B.Sc. Fisheries (eight semesters), M.Sc. (three semesters) and Ph.D. degrees in various specialised areas of fisheries and aquaculture. Later, the Institute of Marine Science was established at Chittagong University in 1973, followed by the Fisheries and Marine Science discipline in Khulna University in 1991, the Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries at Dhaka University in 1998 and the Department of Aquaculture at Rajshahi University in 2000 for fisheries education and research. The Zoology departments at the above and other universities also offer subjects related to aquaculture and fisheries.
The Bangladesh Agricultural University offers training to the Government and NGO fisheries officers through its Graduate Training Institute, other institutes offering fisheries education and training are the Marine Fisheries Academy, Chittagong which offers 1–2 year diploma courses, the Fisheries Training Academy at Savar, Dhaka, the Fisheries Training Institute, Chandpur, offers 1–3 months training. The Fish Hatchery and Training Center, Raipur, the Fisheries Training Center, Faridpur and Vocational Youth Training Centers provide diploma certificates.
Aquaculture production in Bangladesh has shown an average growth of 28 percent from 0.12 million tonnes to 0.66 million tonnes during the period 1985 to 2000. However, during the same period the production of shrimp has increased from 11 000 to 94 000 tonnes, recording an average annual growth of 45 percent. Following full implementation of improved technologies and better utilisation of water bodies, it is estimated that aquaculture production could be increased by about 150 percent over the next five years (Mazid, 2002). However during the fifth five-year plan despite the target for total production being 2.02 million tonnes only 1.66 million tonnes was actually produced.
Over the last decade the price of fish has increased at an annual rate of 2.5 percent (FFYP, 1997–2002).
The following issues require to be addressed in future:
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