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The Fisheries Research Institute was created on the 11th July 1984 to rationalise and develop fisheries and aquaculture research in Bangladesh. Previously fisheries research had been fragmented and largely unco-ordinated. The Directorate of Fisheries (DOF), the Universities of Chittagong, Dhaka, Mymensingh (BAU) and Rajshahi, and the Institute of Food Science and Technology of the Bangladesh Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) have all been involved in studies related to the fisheries sector. Within the Five Year Master Plan prepared for the FRI (Anon, 1987a) there was provision for the establishment of five research stations:

Freshwater Station(FS)
Riverine Station(RS)
Marine Station(MS)
Fisheries Technology Station(FTS)
Brackishwater Station(BS)

Four of the research stations already existed under other names within the structure of the DOF. The FS at Mymensingh and the RS at Chandpur have already been transferred to the FRI, and have been the subject of recent upgrading. The headquarters of the FRI is also located at the FS in Mymensingh, although it is recommended that a small headquarters secretariat will eventually be based in Dhaka. The MS still remains part of the DOF, although some rooms have recently been released for FRI. The function of the FTS has been combined with the RS at Chandpur with the result that FRI now comprises four research stations.

The purpose of the BS (originally designated the Brackishwater Aquaculture Research Station and more recently the Brackishwater Fisheries Research Station) is to conduct research into all aspects of the cultivation of brackishwater shrimp and finfish. It was therefore proposed that the BS should be built in the semi-saline region south of Khulna and Satkhira where a major part of the shrimp farming industry has developed. The site selection and basic design for the BS were completed in early 1987 (Anon, 1986b, 1987b; Karim, 1986). A total of nine sites distributed between the Upazilas of Mongla, Rampal, Paikgacha, Satkhira, Kaliganj and Shyamnagar were critically evaluated by Dr M Karim. A site close to the DOF freshwater fish hatchery at Paikgacha was finally selected.

The site of the BS at Paikgacha was visited on the 18th April 1988 with the appointed Chief Scientific Officer (CSO), Dr Aminullah Bhuiyan. The adjacent DOF freshwater fish hatchery has now been transferred to the FRI for incorporation into the new research station. The existing hatchery facilities comprise five ponds of about 1.0 acre (0.4 ha) each, a small hatchery building and a tubewell. The hatchery site occupies some 6.3 acres (2.5 ha), whilst the additional land being purchased by the Government on behalf of the FRI brings the combined total area of the site to 76.3 acres (30.9 ha). Title to the 70 acres required for the BS is held by 137 separate landowners.

The FRI has experienced very severe problems associated with the acquisition of the land at Paikgacha. Although there appeared to be no initial objection to the compulsory purchase of the land by the Government, several groups of landowners sought to increase the level of compensation offered by the Government after the designated period for the submission of appeals had lapsed. Initially the landowners were offered about Tk 22,00,000 (US$ 71,000) in compensation, but after protracted negotiations this was finally increased to about Tk 31,00,000 (US$ 100,000).

A considerable amount of friction has been created within the local community as a result of the attempted compulsory purchase of the land by the Government. At the time of the second part of the assignment (March-May 1989) the land acquisition has still not been completed. It appears that this is due to two main factors: first insufficient compensation for the existing landowners, and secondly political opposition generated by one of the opposition political parties. The recent Ministerial visit to Paikgacha appears to have been resolved at least some of the remaining difficulties regarding possession of the site.

If these problems continue there are three alternative courses of action which should be carefully considered:

  1. Construct the various buildings on the site of the old DOF fish hatchery (since title to this land is guaranteed) and lease the remaining 70 acres from the landowners for a period of 10 years, after which the land in its improved state would be returned to the individual landowners. A policy of leasing land rather than outright purchase, would give the BS the opportunity to change the location and environmental conditions of its experimental culture facilities as research priorities dictated.

  2. In exchange for the 70 acres at Paikgacha, offer the present landowners an equivalent area (or more) of Government land in the vicinity (perhaps polder 20). In such a situation the landowners would have to be given full title to the BWDB land and not merely be offered the leasehold as is the usual practice.

  3. Revert to the original site selection study and acquire or lease the land at the next most suitable site at Rampal close to Khulna.

The main purpose of the BS is to act as a catalyst in the development of brackishwater aquaculture in southwest Bangladesh through active research, demonstration of appropriate farming practices and extension services. It is therefore essential that the local community does not become alienated by the insistence of the Government on compulsory purchase of the land, since these people are an integral part of the target group that the BS is supposed to be helping. Any resentment fostered by the local community can only disrupt and possibly negate the desired process of supporting the development of brackishwater aquaculture in this rural area.

These complications have unfortunately delayed some aspects of the design of the facilities, since the architects and engineers (Engineers Consortium Ltd) had been refused access to the site by some of the less co-operative landowners. Access was required in order to complete the topographic survey, to take soil samples for the purposes of foundation designs, and to establish the precise relationship between the ground level of the site and measured tidal data.

The relative isolation of the BS at Paikgacha is a cause of some concern. It may well prove difficult to recuit new staff and to attract existing FRI staff to work at the BS. This is likely to be especially problematical in the case of scientists with young families requiring primary and particularly secondary school education. Since it appears unlikely that any financial incentive can be offered to FRI employees working at Paikgacha, alternative means must be used to attract them. It should be a requirement for all FRI staff that at some point during their employment, they should expect to be posted to the BS for a minimum of 12 months. Satisfactory completion of such postings could be made a requirement for promotion within the FRI.

It is also suggested that first class laboratory facilities and domestic accommodation are provided as additional incentives. The provision of an FRI commissariat at the research station, selling food and other essential items, would be an extra attraction for families posted to Paikgacha. It is also recommended that an air conditioned shuttle minibus service is operated between the BS and Khulna on a daily basis and between the BS and Dhaka once a week for both employees and their families.

There is also a need for a small clinic with a full time medical officer for the general treatment of BS employees and their families. A helipad would be useful for any emergencies, especially in view of the distance between Paikgacha and Dhaka and the fact that at least one of the ferries does not operate at night. It is also recommended that the provision of the BS school should be given a very high priority in the construction programme.

At the start of the first part of the assignment in early April 1988, draft plans for most of the major research facilities had already been completed and were awaiting review and approval, although foundation designs were still lacking. During June 1988 these plans were reviewed in detail with the Director of FRI (Professor Asadur Rahman), the appointed Chief Scientific Officer for the new BS (Dr Aminullah Bhuiyan), the Project Team Leader (Dr M V Gupta), and, in the case of the nutrition and feed production facilities the nutrition specialist (Professor John E Halver).

Due to the need to provide continuous environmental control in many of the laboratories and in order to protect delicate analytical instruments, it is strongly recommended that the main Administration and Laboratory Building and the Hatchery and Demonstration Laboratory should be centrally air conditioned. Furthermore the air conditioning should be run for 24 hours per day.

If central air conditioning is installed it should be divided into logical independent zones. For example in the main Administration and Laboratory Building, the offices, the pathology and microbiology wing, and the nutrition wing should be isolated from each other to prevent noxious smells and shrimp or fish diseases being transmitted to all parts of the building. Furthermore if central air conditioning is to be provided, toilets should not be fitted with return ducting, but instead should have exhaust fans.

Since much of the research will be dependent on pumps, compressors, lighting, air conditioning, analytical instruments and other electrical equipment, it is essential that the electrical supply is reliable. It is therefore recommended that all the electrical services (including the air conditioning) of the main Administration and Laboratory Building, the Hatchery and Demonstration Laboratory, and the Services Building should be fully supported by automatic start standby generators with alarm systems.

Both single and three phase supplies will be required. It has already been recommended (Anon, 1987b) that a 12 V DC supply is provided in ‘wet’ laboratories. This is an excellent safety precaution, but unfortunately relatively few items of equipment are available for use with this voltage. The general standard of construction and finish should be extremely high. It is recommended that the simple but effective internal finish of the newly constructed World Bank building in Dhaka should be used as a model.

Detailed specifications have now been completed for each of the specialised research areas and laboratories within the BS (see APPENDIX E). These will eventually be incorporated in the construction specifications and tender documents by the Engineers Consortium Ltd. It is anticipated that the tender documents will be completed within the next two to three months. This will hopefully permit the completion of the tendering procedures and the awarding of the contract by September/October, so that construction can start immediately after the monsoon season (July-October).

The outside research facilities of the BS were originally planned to include the following experimental ponds:

27 ponds of 0.1 ha
18 ponds of 0.2 ha
  9 ponds of 0.5 ha
  3 ponds of 1.0 ha.

Following a visit to the Project in March 1989, the aquacultural engineer has recommended that the number of ponds initially constructed should be reduced to:

16 ponds of 0.1 ha
12 ponds of 0.2 ha
  6 ponds of 0.5 ha
  2 ponds of 1.0 ha,

with a further settlement pond of 2.8 ha. The additional space can be used for further pond construction at a later stage of the Project (Muir, 1989). Recommendations have also been made regarding the possibility of phasing the construction in order to keep the costs of the Project within the existing budget allocation.

It has been proposed that water exchange should be tidal and that the ponds should be capable of being totally drained during low tides. A single channel has been proposed for both the supply and drainage water. If the cost is not prohibitive, it is recommended that separate supply and drainage channels are constructed to reduce the possibility of effluent water being returned to the ponds during tidal flushing. Depending on the results of the detailed topographic survey of the site, it may be found necessary to use pumps to supply water to the ponds. It is also suggested that any sluices or monks for controlling water within the ponds are constructed of concrete and not wood as specified in the initial design.

Since the most important experimental ponds are in the range of 0.1–0.5 ha, it may be wise to utilise the two 1.0 ha ponds for the settlement of sediment in the water supply. This would be much more easily arranged if the supply was pumped rather than tidal. The settlement ponds could be made deeper than the other ponds on the site (up to 2.0 m) by raising the level of the bunds. This would allow a gravity fed supply from the settlement ponds to the experimental ponds. The settlement ponds could also be used for holding broodstock.

The final design of the ponds and the supply and drainage system will depend to some extent on the results of the detailed topographic and soil surveys yet to be completed.

Detailed lists of research equipment and other requirements prepared for the BS are included in the following APPENDICES:

FBasic Research Equipment
GGeneral and Histological Chemicals
HTherapeutic Chemicals and Drugs
ISources of Live Micro-organisms
JSources of Artemia Cysts
KWorkshop Equipment, Tools and Materials
LPotential Suppliers.

APPENDIX F contains only a summary of the basic research equipment required at the BS. Detailed specifications and quantities for each item have been discussed with FRI and BS staff, and submitted in the form of manuscript lists, since these will in any case need to be broken down into a number of smaller lists for the purposes of inviting tenders. It has been estimated that the total cost of the research equipment and supplies will be in the order of US$ 500,000 (prices in June 1988).

Since construction of the BS has not yet started, there will be an interval of at least 30–36 months before the research station becomes fully operational. It may therefore be possible to spread the purchase of the equipment over two fiscal years. Furthermore much of the equipment will not be needed during the first year of operation.

The detailed list of equipment (including specifications and quantities), prepared jointly with the CSO of the BS, has therefore been divided into two parts, so that the purchase of equipment can be spread over two or more fiscal years. The first part includes items required initially to commission the BFRS and to bring it into operation. It has been estimated that these items will cost around US$ 350,000, although it may be possible to split them between two fiscal years depending on the starting date and speed of construction. Those items included in the second part are less important initially and are estimated to cost around US$ 150,000.

If the decision is made to order equipment and supplies in advance of the completion of the BS, it should be borne in mind that electronic and sensitive analytical equipment, and some chemicals may deteriorate whilst in storage at ambient temperature and relative humidity ranges. Furthermore, in order to check deliveries adequately for breakages and damage incurred in transit, all equipment must be completely unpacked, checked and, if appropriate, tested. This is likely to impose severe constraints on subsequent storage, if deterioration is to be avoided before the BS becomes fully functional.

The general and histological chemicals (APPENDIX G) are estimated to cost around US$ 10,000–12,000. Depending on the quantities ordered, the therapeutic chemicals and drugs (APPENDIX H) are likely to cost in the region of US$ 2,000–3,000. An allowance of US$ 15,000–20,000 should be made for the workshop equipment and tools and a further US$ 5,000–10,000 for materials (APPENDIX K). It is very important that plenty of uPVC pipes of various diameters together with a full range of fittings for each size are purchased and maintained in stock.

Certain installation equipment (eg water pumps, filters, UV sterilisers, compressors, generators etc) have been included in the basic equipment list for the BS (Anon, 1987b). Although this policy has been followed in preparing the cost estimates of research equipment above, these items should be included in the construction of the research station and be installed by the contractor. These items should therefore be incorporated in the tender documents. It should also be noted that the capacities of the larger standby generators will need to be recalculated in the light of the recommendations on air conditioning and environmental control in certain laboratories.

There are certain aspects of the work relating to the design and construction of the BS which will require specialist input in future. These are:

  1. Final review and, if necessary, revision of the tender documents, including all the engineering drawings and specifications, prior to issuing the invitations to bid.

  2. Periodic visits (every 2–3 months) to the site at Paikgacha during the construction of the specialised laboratories and facilities, services, and the experimental ponds and water supply and drainage systems.

  3. Final visit to the site to check that the specialised laboratories and facilities, pond systems and services have been completed satisfactorily prior to acceptance and final handing-over.

  4. Assistance with the commissioning of the BS and the implementation of the research programmes (TOR items 3 and 4).

On the assumption that possession of the site can be finalised in the near future, item A will need to be carried out before September 1989 so that construction can commence immediately the monsoon season has passed. Item B will need to be conducted during the extension period of the TA Project BGD/83/010, whilst the remainder of item B, and items C and D should be incorporated in the terms of reference of the expatriate brackishwater specialist to be assigned to the BS (Anon, 1989).

The current total staff allocation for the BS (condensed into fewer categories) is summarised in Table 2. Although the total number of staff has been increased from 66 since the original staff requirements for the BS were prepared (Anon, 1986d), it is felt that there are still far too few technicians (assistants) to support the research programme. It is recommended that at least another 20 technical staff will be needed to support the proposed 27 research staff. In addition, it is suggested that a photographic technician and medical officer are added to the complete list.

Table 2. Summary of the current staff allocation of the BS, adapted from Anon (1988).

Administration: Research: 
Deputy director
Stenographers/typists etc
Field assistants
Upper division assistants
Field assistant
Pond attendant
Pump operator

If for budgetary reasons it is found necessary to phase the construction of the BS over 2–3 years, then the staffing requirements will be significantly reduced in the short term. This will have the advantage of providing more time for the recuitment and training of suitable candidates. The initial requirement will depend to a large extent on the manpower needed to carry out the various work plans (proposals) comprising the preliminary research programme of the BS (APPENDIX M).

A list of recommended books and periodicals for the BS has already been prepared (Anon, 1987d). In view of the relative isolation of the research station from the main FRI Library and Documentation Centre at Mymensingh, it is recommended that this list should be substantially revised and expanded. This task could also perhaps be carried out by the expatriate brackishwater specialist to be assigned to the BS.

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