Role of Fisheries in Bangladesh:
At present the Fisheries Sector in Bangladesh represents as one of the most productive and dynamic sectors in the country. This sector plays a significant role in employment, nutrition, and foreign exchange earnings in the economy of Bangladesh.
About 1.25 million peoples are directly involved in Fisheries sector in Bangladesh. Over 12 million additional rural people indirectly earn their livelihoods from fisheries related activities. Among rural dwellers, four out of five are dependent to some extent on fisheries resources. Data shows that 55% of fisheries personnel are involved in freshwater fisheries, while 36% are employed in marine fisheries. Shrimp culture absorbs 6.2%, and fish processing plants and hatcheries employed 0.4% and 2.2% respectively.
Frozen shrimp, fish, and other fishery products rank third in the export earnings of the country. In 2007-2008 Bangladesh earned more than three thousand crores exporting fish and fisheries products. The sector contributes about 3.74% of GDP, 20.87% of gross agricultural product, and 4.04% of export earnings. Importantly fisheries, from both capture and culture provide about 58% of the population’s total animal protein intake of the country, as well as, being a key source of essential minerals, vitamins and fatty acids, vital factors in child development and adult health.
Fisheries Resources in the country:
Bangladesh’s fisheries sector is generally classified into two types: Inland (open-water fishery) and Marine fisheries.
Inland fisheries comprise of capture and culture (closed-water fisheries) based fisheries. The capture component is composed of rivers and estuaries, the Sundarban mangrove forest, beel, Kaptai Lake, and flood-land etc. The total area of inland open-water bodies is about 4.04 million hectors, comprising about 1.03 million hectors of rivers and estuaries (including Sundarban), 2.83 million ha of floodland, and small areas of beels and Kaptai Lake (0.114 million ha and 0.068 million ha respectively). Inland culture fisheries, on the other hand, include ponds and ditches (0.26 million ha), baors (5,400 ha), and coastal shrimp and fish farms (0.14 million ha).
Marine waters extend over 166,000 sq km of sea area, following the 1974 declaration of a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), within which Bangladesh also has the right to exploit and manage living and nonliving resources. Continental self is extended up to 40 fathoms deep region into the sea. Area of fishing with drift met earmarked up to 40 meter depth of marine water at the highest tide. The industrial fishing operates beyond 40 meter depth zone towards sea up to the EEZ of the country.
A large variety of species of fish, prawn, and other aquatic organisms of economic importance inhabit the waters of Bangladesh. In freshwater, 260 species belonging to 55 families have been identified. In addition, 13 exotic freshwater fish species have been introduced. A total of 490 species of finfish belonging to 133 families have been recorded in marine fisheries, of which 65–70 species are commercially important. About 56 species of Palemonid and Penaeid prawn occur in freshwater, estuarine, and Marine water ecosystem.
Moreover, around 25 species of tortoises and turtles are found in Bangladesh. In addition, a number of invertebrate crustaceans of economic value inhabit floodplain waters. Eleven species of marine and 4 species of freshwater crabs are important for consumption. Several amphibian species also live in both freshwater and marine systems. Various species of algae and seaweed of economic and food importance have been identified in the coast and islands of the bay. Most aquatic species share the floodplains region. Consumption of most of the fish species depends on availability and flooding intensity. Most of the species annually move from rivers through canals to beels and floodplains and share ecological niches.
Bangladesh is ideally suited for fish production, having one of the highest per capita water ratios in the world, at 20 persons per ha of water area. Fish production for the year 2007–08 was 2.56 million metric tons, of which 80.59% comes from inland fisheries and 19.41% comes from the marine waters. Inland capture and culture fisheries contributed 41.36% and 39.23% respectively. Flood-lands (including the regulated polders and enclosures) contribute most to inland capture fisheries (77.29). While river and estuaries constitute large areas, they contribute little to total fish production (13%). Ponds, on the other hand, provide the largest portion of total cultured based production (37.39%). Artisanal marine fisheries contribute most to marine production (93.13%). The most common species has historically been Hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha), which used to account for nearly half of the total marine catch and about 11.31% of total fish production.
During the past several years, fish production in the country has been gradually increased. The annual growth rates of production indicate that inland aquaculture grew fastest, followed by the marine sector. Inland capture fisheries, on the other hand, are on a declining path. Inland aquaculture and marine and brackish-water sectors likely have the largest future potential for growth.
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