Fisheries: Bangladesh Perspective

The term “fisheries” is widely used. Fisheries generally refer to the cultivation and breeding of edible and marketable fish. However, in the broadest sense, it also includes the exploitation of many other aquatic animals besides fish. The prudent exploitation of fish, shrimps, crabs, and various types of mollusks such as oysters, dolphins, and whales for the enjoyment and benefit of human beings from natural water bodies includes fisheries. In a broad sense, fisheries emphasize the exploitation of natural aquatic resources. 

According to the Revised Updated, Illustrated Oxford Dictionary- (1) Fishery or fisheries is a place where fishing or rearing of fish is done. (2) The art of fishing or rearing of fish is called fisheries. Currently, fisheries are established as an applied branch of zoology. In this branch, commercially important fish exploitation, conservation, cultivation, processing, etc. are discussed, reviewed, and researched.

Types of Fisheries

1. Fisheries can be divided into two types according to the type of organism, namely:

(1) Fin fisheries and (2) Non-Fin fisheries. Fin fisheries are real fish (cool-blooded vertebrates that breathe with the help of gills and move with the help of paired and unpaired fins, such as Labeo, Catla, etc,. Non-fin fisheries, on the other hand, refer to animals other than true fish such as prawns, shrimps, crabs, lobsters, snails, oysters, sea cucumbers, frogs, and seaweeds.

2. Fisheries can be divided into two categories based on exploitation, viz: 

(A) Capture fisheries: In this case, aquatic life is exploited without stocking the fry. In this case, naturally, the recruitment of species occurs and transfer to the sea, rivers, and other water bodies. Such exploitation includes both expected and unexpected types of fish.

(B) Culture fisheries: These fisheries are the cultivation of selected fish for maximum production through maximum care in certain limited areas. In this case, the fish is harvested after a certain period by keeping the fry in a certain pond and rearing them. In the ponds where fish are farmed, fertilizers are applied and supplementary food is provided in the ponds for maximum production. Culture fisheries operate in freshwater, estuaries, and seas. The development and expansion of new culture methods have resulted in the cultivation of various aquatic organisms such as prawns, shrimps, crabs, mollusks, frogs, seaweeds, etc. under culture fisheries. Culture fisheries are called aquaculture for the cultivation of different types of aquatic organisms.

3. Fisheries can be divided into two main categories based on habitat, namely:

(a) Inland Fisheries and (b) Marine Fisheries. 

(A) Inland Fisheries: These types of fisheries are further divided into two sub-divisions, viz. (1) Fresh Water Fisheries (2) Brackish Water Fisheries: In such fisheries, fish are farmed in ponds and lakes inside various dams in coastal and bay areas. 

(B) Marine Fisheries: In this case, various types of fish and other economically important marine lives are exploited from the sea.

Bangladesh Fisheries

Bangladesh ranks third in Asia in aquatic biodiversity after China and India. The country has the largest floodplain in the world (Bengal Delta) and 3 major rivers as Padma, Brahmaputra, and Meghna. The vast aquatic resources of this country play an important role as a source of food security and income for the people. Bangladesh ranks second among the top ten fish-producing countries in the world in terms of inland fisheries (FAO 2009). Bangladesh also ranks sixth among the world’s major fish farming countries (FAO 2009). There are two main sectors of Bangladesh Fisheries, namely: Inland Fisheries and Marine capture Fisheries.

Inland Fisheries are further subdivided into Inland Capture Fisheries and Inland Culture Fisheries. Inland capture fisheries are exploited from rivers and their tributaries, creeks, parabon areas of the Sundarbans, open wetlands such as beels and seasonal floodplains. Inland culture fisheries include fish production from closed reservoirs such as ponds, ditches, baors, coastal shrimps, and fish farms. Artisan (non-mechanical) fisheries run by industrial and troll fisheries and coastal fishing communities include marine fisheries. The total area of ​​water bodies in Bangladesh is 20,897,994 ha, of which inland freshwater watershed is 458,5606 ha, of which 91% are open and 9% are closed water bodies (FRSS 2006).

Rivers, canals, haors, baors, and floodplains are the main sources of fish production in inland open water bodies. Over the last few years, fish production has been declining due to various natural and man-made causes. Notable among these are flood control, drainage, and construction of dams in irrigation projects. Other factors include harvesting of mature and small fish, management of revenue-based fisheries through lease, removal of excess water for crop cultivation from rivers and other water bodies, discharge of harmful chemicals and toxins from dirty areas and various industries, use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers in agricultural fields. Water pollution, silt accumulation reduces the water holding capacity of rivers, beels and baors. Besides overfishing to meet the growing demand of the people also cause fish production loss. 

The role of fisheries in the agro-based economy of Bangladesh is very important. Since prehistoric times, fish has played an important role in the daily diet of people, in agriculture, tradition, and economy. We get 80% of animal meat from fish. About 75-95% of this meat is digestible. Fish meat contains all the essential amino acids. Fish also contains important minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. In Bangladesh, 12.4 million people are involved in inland fisheries production in one way or another. Of these, 1.4 million are full-time fishermen, 11.0 million are part-time or casual fishermen, and a small portion is fish farmers (Minkin et al. 1997 1997). Below are some of the nutrients of some small native fish (per 100 grams)

Table: Nutrients of some native small sized fish and some economically important fish.

SpeciesVitamin- A (mg)Calcium (mg)Iron (mg)
Native Small Fish
Mola, Moia: Mola carplet (Amblypharyngodon mola)196010717
Keti, Chela (Osteobrama cotio)9371260
Darkina (Rasbora sp.)1457
Chanda (Chanda sp)3411162
Punti (Puntius sp.)371059
Large-sized fish
Ilish (Tenualosa sp)691263
Silver carp (Hypophthalmicthyes molitrix)172683
Rohu (Labeo rohita)27317
Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus)195
Daily Demand 7504507.6

Bangladesh’s wetlands have a variety of dynamic ecosystems such as Parabon (about 577,100 hectares), natural lakes, artificial reservoirs (Kaptai Lake – 68,800 hectares), freshwater wetlands (about 400 haors), oxbow lakes (known as Baor) with an area of ​​5488 hectares. , Freshwater reservoirs (about 1000 beels – 1,14,61 hectares), fish ponds and lakes (about 147,000 hectares), bay areas, seasonal floodplains that flood 80% of the total land area (Khan 1993). The wetlands of Bangladesh are rich in flora and fauna. In haor, baor, beel, lake, plants, and animals are almost the same. However, their dominance varies from season to season.

The main source of inland fisheries is fish which meets our national needs. Major carp, exotic carp, catfish, snakehead (shoal, gazar, taki), zeol fish, hilsa, and small native fish play a more important role in commercial fisheries. Statistics show that in the financial year 2006-2007, the contribution of large and small native fish to the inland fish production was 45.43%. Of these, major carp contributed 21.95%, exotic carp 12.01%, large and small shrimp 9.06%, and hilsa fish 11.44%.

In addition, the growth rate of fisheries in GDP (2008) was 3.91% (FRSS 2006). The sector contributed 9.2% of national export earnings and 4.8% of GDP (FRSS 2006). The per capita fish consumption rate has decreased. As a result, the demand has increased more than the current supply. To meet the shortage of fish in the country, it is necessary to increase production. This will be possible if we can bring all our cultivable ecosystems and their proper use under scientific management. The contribution of inland open water to the total national fish production is 41.36%. The area of ​​the inland closed water is 528,390 hectares which include ponds, ditches, baors or oxbow lakes, and shrimp production farms. Pond fisheries exist nationwide and its contribution in 2009 was 29.23% (FRSS 2006).

At present in the south-western part of the country, there is a horse-shoe-shaped lake or oxbow lake (known as Baor) where fish is being farmed. In addition, saltwater shrimp is cultivated in the south, east, and west coastal areas. On the other hand, freshwater prawn is being cultivated on a large scale all over the country. The following table shows the area, fisheries, and production capacity of the country’s fisheries from July 2006 to June 2008.

Table: Fisheries sub-region size, fish catch and production capacity of the country are shown (July 2007-2008)

Resource TypeWater bodies (Hectare) Production (MT)Production/area (kg/ha)% rate of total Production
A. Inland Fisheries
Capture Fisheries
1. River & estuaries 853,683 136,812 160
2. Sundarbans 177,700 18,151 102
3. Beels114,16177,524679
4. Kaptai Lake68,8008.248120
5. Floodplains2,832,792819,446289
Total Capture Fisheries4,047,3161,060,18141.36
B. Inland Culture Fisheries
1. Ponds and ditches305,025866,0492,839
2. Baor(Ox-bow lake)5,4884,7782.839
3. Shrimp/prawn farm217,877134,715618
Total Culture Fisheries528,3901,005,54239.23
Inland Total4,575,7062,065,72380.59
B. Marine Fisheries
1. Industrial Fisheries (trawl)34,159
2. Artisanal Fisheries 463,414
Marine Total597,57319.41
Country total2,563,296100

Source: FRSS, Department of Fisheries, 2009

There are 260 freshwater species under 17 order, 61 families, and 158 genera in this country out of which about 80% of fish are under 3 orders (Cypriniformes, Siluriformes, Perciformes). Fish can be divided into two based on size, viz:

Large-sized fish:  At the mature stage, if all the fish grow 25 cm length or larger than10 inches in length, they are called big fish.

Small-sized fish:  At the mature stage, if all the fish grow up to 25 cm in length (10 inches), they are called small fish. In English, small fish are called SIS (Small Indigenous Species). Again, many call them SRS (Self Recruiting Species).

Of the 260 species of freshwater fish in our country, 150 are small fish. About 80% of the IUCN’s list of 54 endangered species are small fish. Freshwater fish can be divided into about 16 groups. Many groups have only small fish, and some groups are a mixture of small and big fish. Of these small fish, 50 species are commonly found in inland water bodies. Among them, there are about 20 carp and 10 catfish. Moreover, almost all freshwater prawns belong to the category of small fish. The table below gives a list of small and large fish belonging to different groups.

Table: List of small and large fish in the different group

GroupFish typeGroupFish type
Indian major carpsLarge-sized fishPerches Small-sized fish
Minor carpsSmall-sized fishLoaches Small-sized fish
Large catfishes Large-sized fish Anchovies Small-sized fish
Small catfishes Small-sized fish Gobies Small-sized fish
River shads Large-sized fish Glass fishes Small-sized fish
Snake heads Small-sized fish / Large-sized fish Mullets Small-sized fish / Large-sized fish
Freshwater eels Small-sized fish / Large-sized fish Minnows Small-sized fish
Feather backs Small-sized fish / Large-sized fish Barbs Small-sized fish

There are about 260 species of native fish in Bangladesh, out of 54 species of fish, 12 species are in critically endangered, 28 species are in endangered and 14 species are in vulnerable. The IUCN (2006) classifies endangered species in the wild into three groups, viz., (1) Critically Endangered – endangered species in the near future. (2) Endangered -Those species that are not endangered but will face a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future are called endangered species. And (3) Vulnerable – Species that are not critically endangered but are at high risk of extinction in the medium term are called endangered species.

Table: The table below details the endangered species of fish in Bangladesh

SlLocal NameEnglish NameScientific NamePresent status
1চিতলHumped FeatherbackNotopterus chitalaEndangered
2ফলি/ফলইGrey FeatherbackNotopterus notopterusVulnerable
3বামশ/বাইমIndian long fin eelAnguilla bengalensisVulnerable
4জয়া/কুকসাHamilton`s barilaBarilius bendelistisEndangered
5খোকশাVagra barilBarilus vargaEndangered
6এলং/সেফাটিয়াBengel barbBengala elongaEndangered
7কাশ খয়রাIndian Glass barbChela laubucaVulnerable
8টাটকিনি/বাটা/বাংনাReba carpCirrhinus rebaVulnerable
9কালা বাটাGan Getic latiaCrossocheilus latiusEndangered
10ভাঙন বাটা/বাটাBata labeoLabeo bataEndangered
11ভাঙন/ভাঙন বাটাBuga labeoLabeo bogaCritically Endangered
12কালি বাউসKalbasuLabeo calbasuEndangered
13ঘোনিয়া/গোনাইনাKuria baleoLabeo goniusEndangered
14নান্দিনা/নান্দিলNandi laleoLabeo nandinaCritically Endangered
15ঘোড়া খুইখ্যা/ঘোড়া মাছPangusia labeoLabeo pangusiaCritically Endangered
16ঢেলা/ডিপালি/কোটিCotioOsteobrama cotioEndangered
17সরপুঁটি/স্বর্ণ পুঁটিOlive barbPuntius saranaCritically Endangered
18তিতপুঁটিTicto barbPuntius tictoVulnerable
19বোলIndian troutRaiamus bolaEndangered
20দাড়কিনাGangetic scissortail rasboraRasbora rasboraEndangered
21মহাশোল/মহাশেরTor MohaseerTor torCritically Endangered
22রাণী/বেতীNecktie LoachBotio darioEndangered
23রাণী/পুতুল/বেটিY-LoachBotio lohachataEndangered
24আইর/আউরLong whiskered cat fishAorichthys aorEndangered
25গুইজ্জা আইরGiant River cat fishAorichthys seenghalaEndangered
26টেংরাAssamese BatasioBatasio tenganaEndangered
27গোলশা/গোলমা টেংরাGengetic MistusMystus cavasiusVulnerable
28রিটাRitaRita ritaCritically Endangered
29কানি পাবদা/বোয়ালী পাবদাIndian Butter Cat fishOmpok bimaculatusEndangered
30মধু পাবদাPabdah catfishOmpok pabdaEndangered
31পাবদাPabo Cat fishOmpok paboEndangered
32কাজলি/বাঁশ পাতাJamuna ailiaAilia punctata 
33ঘাউরাGarua BachaClupisoma garuaCritically Endangered
34বাচাBatchwa BachaEutropiicthys vachaCritically Endangered
35শিলংSilondia VachaSilonia silondiaCritically Endangered
36পাঙ্গাসPungasPangasius pangasiusCritically Endangered
37বাঘাইরGangetic GoonchBagarius yarrelliiCritically Endangered
38সিসর/চেনুয়াSisor cat fishSisor rhabdophorusCritically Endangered
39চেকা/চেগাIndian chacaChaca chacaEndangered
40গাংমাগুর/কান মাগুরCanine catfishPlotosus caniusVulnerable
41এক ঠোঁটাWrestling half beakDernogenys pesillusEndangered
42কোটা কুমিরের খিলDeocata pipe fishMicrophis deocataEndangered
43কুচা/কুচিয়াGangetic mud eelMonopterus cuchiaVulnerable
44চান্দা/নামা চান্দাElongate glass perchletChanda namaVulnerable
45রাঙা চান্দা/লাল চান্দাIndian Glassy fishPseudembassis rangaVulnerable
46বিষ তারাSpotted scatScatophagus argusVulnerable
47মেনি/ভেদা/রয়না/ভেদুরMottled nandus,mud perchNandus nandusVulnerable
48নাপিত কৈ/কৈ বানদীDwarf Chameleon fish, BadisBadis badisEndangered
49নেফটানিIndian Paradise fishCtenops nobolisEndangered
50পিপলা শোল/পিলা শোলBarca snake headChanna barcaCritically Endangered
51গজার/গজালGiant snake headChanna maruliusEndangered
52তেলো টাকি/রাগা/চ্যাঙ/গাচুয়াAsiatic snake headChanna orientalisVulnerable
53তারা বাইমOne stripe spiny eelMacrognathus aralVulnerable
54শাল বাইম/বাইম/বামTire-track spiny eelMastacembelus armatusVulnerable

There are 260 species of freshwater fish in Bangladesh which belong to 158 genera and 61 families. In addition to 260 species, 18 foreign or exotic fish species have been imported so far from different countries, which belong to 6 families such as Charachidae, Loricaridae, Osphronemidae, Cyprinidae, Channidae and Cichlidae (Rahman, 2005). These species have adapted to freshwater habitats or planting systems. The table below lists exotic fish:

 Table: List of exotic fish

SlFish NameCountryYearPurpose
1Chines gourami(Trichogaster pectoralis)Singapore1952  Insect and weed control  
2Tilapia(Oreochromis mossambicus)Thailand1954Insect control and malaria eradication and cultivation  
3Carpio(Cyprinus carpio)India1960Cultivation  
4Grass Carp(Ctenopharyngodon idellus)Homkong and Japan1966 1970Weed control and cultivation
5Silver carp(Hypophthalmichthys molitrix)Homkong1969Cultivation
6Nilotica (Oreochromis niloticus)Thailand1974Cultivation
7Raj/Thai punti (Barbonemus gonionotus)Thailand1977Cultivation
8Mirror Carp (Cyprinus carpio var. specularis)Thailand1979Cultivation
9Sucker fish (Hypostomus plecostomus)Thailand1980Entertainment/ Decoration  
10Bighead carp (Aristichthys nobilis)Nepal1981Cultivation  
11Black carp (Mylopharyngodon pisceus)China1983Snail control and cultivation  
12Thai pangus (Pangasius hypophthalmus)Thailand1990Cultivation  
13African Magur (Clarias gariepinus)Thailand1990Cultivation  
14GIFT Tilapia  (Genetically Improved Farm Tilapia)Phillipine1994Research
15Scale carp(Genetically Improved Scale Carp) (Cyprinus carpio)Vietnum1995Research
16Milk fish (Chanos chanos)Phillipine1996Cultivation in salt water  
17 Red piranha (Pygocentrus natteri)Thailand,China2003Cultivation and marketing
18Pira pitinga (Piractus brachypomus)Thailand, China2003Cultivation and marketing

Fishing Ground in the Bay of Bengal

Bangladesh is located at the head of the Bay of Bengal. The Bay of Bengal extends to the north of the Indian Ocean at latitudes 50 and 220 north latitude and 800 and 1000 east longitude (Figure). It is bounded on the west by the east coast of Sri Lanka and India and on the north by the delta region of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river system. Formerly the Peninsula of Myanmar which extends up to the Andaman-Nicobar Ridge. To the south of this bay extends from the top of Dandra in southern Sri Lanka to the northern a part of Sumatra.The area of ​​the bay is about 2.2 million square km. It has an average depth of 2600 meters and a maximum depth of 5258 meters. The country has a coastal area of ​​1.66 lakh sq km with a vast coastline of 710 km and 200 nautical miles. There are four fishing grounds in the Bay of Bengal (Figure), viz.

Location of Bay of Bengal on the Map of Bangladesh

South patches:  It is located at 91.300 East to 92.100 East longitude and 20.550 South to 21.520 South latitude (Figure). It has an area of ​​3662 square kilometers and a depth of 10 to 100 meters. However, 90% of the depth is less than 40 meters. The bottom sediment is sandy or slightly muddy sandy. The nearest distance to this area is 40 km from Chittagong and 10 km from Cox’s Bazar. The salinity of surface water is 26-32 ppt and the salinity of bottom water is 30-35 ppt. Water temperature ranges from 200-280 Celsius.

South of south patches: This field is located between 91.300 East to 92.200 East longitude and 20.150 to 20.500 South latitude (Figure). The area of ​​it is 2538 square kilometers. The nearest distance from Teknaf is 5 km. Depth ranges from 10 meters to 100 meters. In this case, 75% of the areas, the depth is more than 40 meters. The bottom sediment is sandy or muddy sandy. The salinity of the surface varies from 18-34 ppt and the salinity of the bottom varies from 28-38 ppt. The water temperature fluctuates from 220 to 300 Celsius.

Middle ground: It extends from 90.200 East to 91.300 East longitude and from 20.250 South to 21.200 South latitude (Figure). The nearest distance from Cox’s Bazar is 75 km. Its total area is about 4600 square kilometers. 80% of the total area is more than 40 meters deep. There is soft muddy sand in the bottom sediment. The salinity of the surface is 22-34 ppt and the salinity of the bottom is 28 to 35 ppt. The water temperature is 270-280 Celsius.

Map Showing Fishing Ground in the Bay of Bengal

Swatch of no Ground: It is located at 89.350 East to 90.100 East longitude and 20.550 South to 21.550 South latitude (Figure). It is located 30 km from Dublar Char and 40 km from Sunarchar. Its total area is 3600 sq km of which 80% of the area is over 40 meters deep. The average depth is 10-100 meters. The bottom sediment is muddy sandy. Salinity at the top is 28-34 ppt and salinity at the bottom is 30-35 ppt. The water temperature is 240-300 Celsius.

Plenty of fish and shrimp are available from all the above fields. Most of the commercially important fish and shrimps are exploited from these areas by trawlers and mechanical boats. These include Bagda Shrimp, Karuma Shrimp, Catfish, Latia, Snapper, Bombay Duck, Flounder, Indian Salmon, Crocker, Saebream, Jawfish, Mullet, pomfret, ribbon fish, hilsa, sardine, tuna, mackerel and skip jack.

Bangladesh is rich in marine aquatic biodiversity. There are about 1931 marine aquatic life including 39.10% fin fish, 31.80% mollusks, 14.9% sae weeds and 3.8% shrimps. The number and percentage of their species are given in the table below-

Table: Marine Aquatic Biodiversity of Bangladesh

Animal GroupNumber of speciesPercentage (%)
Ray finned fish44239.10
Shark, sketes, rays and Dolphin Wjwdb211.86
Sea turtle50.44
Sea weeds16814.9

Difference between Fish and Fishes

Fish can be both singular or plural but in all cases it refers to one species i.e. one or more members of the same species are called Fish. Fishes, on the other hand, are always plural and always refer to more than one species, i.e. members of more than one species are called Fishes. The below table shows the difference between Fish and Fishes.

Table: Difference between Fish and Fishes

Table: Difference between Fish and Fisheries

Fish are cold-blooded vertebrates that breathe through the gills and move using their fins and are primarily dependent on water as habitat.Fisheries generally means the cultivation and breeding of edible and marketable fish. In addition to fish in a broad sense, it also includes the exploitation of other animals. Therefore, fisheries also include the prudent exploitation of fish, shrimps, crabs, sharks and rays from the natural environment and various types of mollusks such as oysters and dolphins, whales, etc., for human food and benefit.
Ichthyology is the study of fish.  The science of fisheries is called Fisheries Science.
 Living fish are divided into six groups, namely Hagfish (Myxini), Lampre (Cephalaspidomorphi), Chondrichthyes, Actinopterygii and Crossopterygii.Fisheries can be divided into two categories according to the type of organism, namely: (1) Fin fisheries and (2) Non-Fin fisheries.
The plural of the word fish is FisheriesThe word fisheries is the plural of the word fishery.