Exports are also good
Mahfuja Mukul: The massive success in fish extraction and production has brought Bangladesh to a position of glory in the international arena. According to the recent report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Bangladesh ranks 3rd in the world in terms of inland fish production, 5th in closed pond cultured fish production, 1st in hilsa production and 4th in tilapia production.
There has been a revolutionary change in the fisheries sector in Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s success in fish production has also been recognized in the international arena. At the same time, the fisheries sector is contributing to meeting the food and nutritional needs of the people of the country, creating employment, achieving economic prosperity, achieving food security, and expanding export trade. Also, currently fish is providing about 60 percent of the animal meat needs of the people of the country.
After 46 years of independence, Bangladesh achieved self-sufficiency in fish production in the fiscal year 2016-17. Bangladesh is now producing 11 percent of the world’s freshwater fish. Bangladesh is among the top three countries in the production of farmed fish. The other two countries on the list are Vietnam and Egypt.
The report titled ‘The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, 2022’ also said that despite various obstacles, three countries are setting an example for the world in the production of farmed fish. Bangladesh and Vietnam in Asia and Egypt in Africa have shown this success.
At present, fish provides about 60 percent of the animal meat needs of the people of the country. People are now consuming 62.58 grams of fish against the per capita requirement of 60 grams per day. Fisheries sector now contributes 3.57 percent of the country’s total GDP and 26.50 percent of the agricultural GDP. The average growth of GDP in the fisheries sector in the last 12 years is 6.2 percent.
Total fish production was 27.1 lakh metric tons in 2008-09 financial year, which increased to 46.21 lakh metric tons in 2020-21 financial year. Of this, the contribution of marine fish is 6.81 lakh metric tons, which is 14.74 percent of the country’s total fish production. In the fiscal year 2008-09, the production of national fish hilsa was 2 lakh 99 thousand metric tons, in the fiscal year 2020-21 it increased to 5 lakh 65 thousand metric tons.
Bangladesh role model in hilsa extraction
Bangladesh is at the top among 11 hilsa producing countries in the world. Hilsa is the national fish and renewable natural resource of Bangladesh. 12.22 percent of Bangladesh’s total fish production comes from Hilsa only. Hilsa contributes more than 1 percent to the country’s GDP, which is the highest as a single species. In 2017, ‘Bangladesh Hilsa’ got the Geographical Indication or GI certificate. As a result, Bangladesh, which produces more than two-thirds of the world’s hilsa, will be presented to the world as a country of hilsa from now on.
The government has taken various programs to protect hilsa resources and increase production. Public awareness is being created for the conservation of Jatka. Besides, during the implementation of the Fisheries Conservation Act and the ban on harvesting of jatka, fishermen are being given four months of VGF food assistance from November to June. In addition, various measures are being taken to stop the collection, marketing, transportation and storage of hilsa nationwide for a total of 22 days during the main breeding season to protect mother-hilsa.
Due to this massive campaign of the government, 5.65 lakh metric tons of hilsa has been extracted in the fiscal year 2020-21. This is 66.17 percent more than the total production of hilsa (3.4 million metric tons) in the fiscal year 2010-11. Also, as a result of the formulation and implementation of the ‘Hilsha Fisheries Management Action Plan’, the production of Hilsha has increased at an average rate of 3.5 percent from 2004-05 to 2014-15.
Bring back endangered native species of fish
The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock is giving more importance to research and innovation to sustain the growth of fish production in the country and to bring back the endangered native fish species to Bengali soil. The Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute under the ministry has developed breeding techniques and farming methods for 36 species of indigenous endangered fish so far in conservation of indigenous fish.
This research institute has established a live gene bank of indigenous fish in Mymensingh for the first time. So far 102 species of fish have been preserved in this gene bank.
Under the direction of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Department of Fisheries is implementing the project of ‘preservation and development of native species of fish and snails’ in 49 upazilas of 10 districts of the country. This project has been taken up for conservation and expansion of indigenous fish species, conservation of snails and oysters and expansion of pearl farming.
Scientists at the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute recently developed a fast-growing and nearly 20 percent more productive improved variety ‘BFRI-Suvarna Rui’. Apart from this, with the aim of increasing the production of fish in open water bodies and preserving species diversity, hatchery release and bill nursery programs are being implemented regularly by the Department of Fisheries.
There are 494 sanctuaries in various rivers and inland open water bodies of the country to increase fish production through conservation, free breeding and breeding of endangered fish species.
Three quality control laboratories have been set up in Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna to ensure the export of safe and quality fish and fish products to the international market.
In addition, three PCR labs have been established at Cox’s Bazar, Satkhira and Khulna to supply disease-free and quality fry at the farmer level to continue exporting shrimp to the international market. ‘Aquaculture Medicinal Products Control Guidelines’ have been formulated to regulate the use of drugs at the aquaculture level.
Contribution of fisheries to exports
One of the main export products of Bangladesh is fish and fish products. Currently, Bangladesh is exporting fish and fish products to 52 countries of the world. Apart from this, the development of non-traditional fisheries and the promotion of export of these products are underway to expand the cultivation of crabs, clams and seaweeds across the country.
Various types of prawns, mainly Lumpy, Bagda, Harina, from Bangladesh; Fresh water fish such as Rui, Katla, Mrigel, Id, Tengra, Boal, Pabda, Koi etc. and marine fish such as Vetki, Datina, Rupchanda, Cuttle fish, Crab etc. are exported. Dried fish, fish scales and shrimp shells are also exported. At present, crabs and crabs extracted from natural sources including farming are being exported abroad.
About 70 percent of these fish products exported are value added products. Value added fishery products such as IQF, cooked, fish fillet etc. are usually exported from Bangladesh. Bangladesh fish and fish products are exported to 52 countries of the world including European Union countries, USA, Japan, Russia, China. Inspite of the financial recession in the world market due to Covid-19, effective initiatives of the government have resulted in the export of 74 thousand 42.67 metric tons of fish and fish products in the last financial year 2021-22.
Through this, an income of 5 thousand 191.75 crores has been earned, which is 26.96 percent more than the previous year.
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman enacted ‘The Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act’ in 1974. Through this, he established the claim of Bangladesh’s sovereign rights over the sea and its resources.
In continuation of this, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s diplomatic foresight and efforts have established our rightful rights in 1 lakh 18 thousand 813 square kilometers of marine waters through the international court. Through this, new doors of possibilities of Sunil economy have been opened.
The immense potential of the marine economy can be harnessed through the assessment of marine fisheries resources, the creation of skilled manpower in this sector, the formulation of modern laws and the sustainable extraction of fish in the deep sea. For this purpose, scientific management of marine fisheries resources, alternative employment creation for fishermen, fish, shrimp, crab and seaweed cultivation in coastal water bodies have been undertaken. Directorate of Fisheries and Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute are working on this.
Under the ‘Sustainable Coastal and Marine Fisheries’ project, 38 survey cruises have been conducted so far in the Bay of Bengal to ensure optimal exploitation of marine fisheries resources. 457 species of fish and fish-like animals have been identified in the survey carried out by the fisheries research and survey vessel RV Meen Thanthi.
Also another project is being implemented for sea tuna and pelagic fisheries. The Marine Fisheries Act, 2020 has been enacted for the sustainable management of marine fisheries resources. Under this law, fishing by all types of boats is stopped in the marine waters for a total of 65 days from May 20 to July 23 every year. As a result, endangered fish stocks are increasing in the Bay of Bengal and various fishes are getting a chance to safely hatch their eggs.
Due to various measures taken by the government, the production of marine fish has increased to 6.81 lakh metric tons in the financial year 2020-21, which is 24.72 percent more than the total production (5.46 lakh metric tons) in the financial year 2010-11.
Fisheries and Livestock Minister S M Rejaul Karim told that there has been a revolutionary change in the country’s fisheries sector. Bangladesh’s success in fish production has been recognized in the international arena beyond the borders of the country. Under the wise leadership and direction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the government has adopted timely and practical policies, development of fisheries research and technology innovation, implementation of various activities including technology expansion at the field level has made this success possible.
Under the direction of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock is giving more importance to research and innovation in order to sustain the growth of fish production in the country and to bring back the endangered species of fish.
He also said that a live gene bank of indigenous fish has been done under the initiative of the government, where 102 species of fish have been preserved so far. If a particular species of fish is lost from a region of the country, it will be possible to re-cultivate the lost fish in those regions from the gene bank. Also, with the aim of increasing fish production in open water bodies and preserving species-diversity, fry release and bill nursery programs are being implemented regularly under the initiative of the Department of Fisheries.
All in all, we want to bring back the old Bengali tradition of fish and rice.
Besides, we want to establish the fisheries sector as one of the sectors contributing to the economic prosperity of the country through exports. However, the government is giving great importance not only to increase fish production, but also to produce and supply quality and safe fish.
For this purpose, various activities including establishment of quality control laboratory, formulation of quality control law of fish and fish products and its implementation, good fishery practices are being implemented – added the minister.
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