Cover Image
close this bookShort-term training programme on GIS (Geographic Information System) for fisheries (1993)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentObjective of the training programme
View the documentProgramme and Resource Persons
View the documentName of the Participants and their Organizations
View the documentInaugural Programme and Addresses
View the documentGIS for Fisheries - An introduction
View the documentFisheries Development Plan of Bangladesh
View the documentData Requirement for Inland Fisheries Planning and Development
View the documentPrinciples of Remote Sensing - Airborne and Satellite Remote Sensing
View the documentSatellite Data Processing and Image Analysis
View the documentFundamentals of GIS
View the documentApplication of Remote Sensing to Environment with Special Reference to Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture
View the documentApplication of Remote Sensing and GIS in Shrimp Farming Areas of Bangladesh
View the documentRemote Sensing Applications for Marine Fisheries Resources in Bangladesh
View the documentPond Concentration Studies in Bangladesh
View the documentInventory of Inland Waters (Based on Study of SPARRSO, 1984)
View the documentFormulation of Periodic Atlas of Structured Information of Fisheries Resources

Fisheries Development Plan of Bangladesh

Dr. M. Momtaz Uddin


Role of Fisheries sector in providing better nutrition, additional employment generation and in foreign exchange earnings needs not to be over emphasised. It is estimated that 80% of the locally produced animal protein food comes from fisheries sources. Although fish intake in absolute term has declined from 33 gm in 1962 to 21 gm in 1988, the percentage contribution of fish as a source of animal protein is likely to further increase in the future. There are over 1.2 million commercial fishermen. Of 14-15 million rural households, about 9-10 million households, get involved in the seasonal or part-time fishing during the monsoon months. The share of fisheries in the total export earning is about 12%, which is third after jute and garments.

The prospect of producing animal protein from other sources are not very bright. With ever increasing population, the net area of land is decreasing and there is not much land which still can be made available for agriculture. It is estimated that, the present 1.3 acres of land per person will remain only by 2000 AD.


Fisheries fall broadly into four categories:

(a) inland capture
(b) inland culture
(c) marine industrial
(d) marine artisanal

Inland fisheries in Bangladesh covers an area of 4.3 million ha of which 94% comprise openwater capture fisheries and 6% closed water culture fisheries. Besides the three main rivers viz., the Padma, the Meghna and the Jamuna/Brahmaputra, 700 rivers and streams totalling 22,155 km. An estimated 2.8 million ha of floodplains, 144,161 ha of beels and 68,800 hectares of Karnafuli reservoir offer considerable scope for augmenting fish production through culture based fishery management.

The culture fisheries of Bangladesh has an estimated 146,890 ha of ponds, 5488 ha of baors and 108,000 ha of shrimp farms. Application of improved culture techniques can increase the production to twice or three times in near future.

Bangladesh has a total fishing grounds of 24,000 sq. km. inside 10 m baseline. The shelf area of a the EEZ from 10 m to a depth of 200 m. provides an additional 42,440 sq. km. However, salinity, dissolved oxygen and water temperature tend to limit the distribution of marine fish to a narrow belt and the effective fishable area is reduced to 14,000 sq. km. The marine shrimp grounds are further restricted to about 700 sq. km.

Small-scale artisanal fisheries contribute about 95% of the total (237,000 tons) marine landings. In the artisanal sector there are 15,100 non-mechanized and 3500 mechanized boats. Nearly 190,000 fishermen are involved in fishing.


During the 3rd plan period (1984-85 to 1989-90) the target for production of fish from all sources was set at 10 lac tons during the terminal year (1989-90). However, the total production of fish from all sources fell short of the target by over 150,000 tons. During the plan period there had been a continuous decline of fish catches from inland openwater sources which was estimated at 40,000 tons. The important factors for the decline of catch are (a) large-scale water abstraction for irrigation, (b) construction of embankments for flood control (c) siltation and soil erosion due to deforestation in the catchment, (d) water pollution from industrial, agricultural and municipal wastes, (e) over-exploitation and destructive fishing practices etc. Apart from steady decline in the total catch, there is an alarming decline in the catches of the riverine fish. The biologically and economically desirable species have given way to lower valued species. While inland capture fisheries contributed 471,591 tons or 62.6% of the total catch in 1983-84, the same declined to 50.4% in 1989. This, along with rapidly growing population, has led to the decline in per capita availability of fish. It is estimated that by the turn of the century, fish production must increase to 1.2 million tons, if the growing population of the country has to consume fish even at the present lower (20 gm/day) level of per capita availability.


The major national objectives for fisheries development as outlined in the Fourth Five Year Plan are:

a) to increase fish production for domestic consumption.

b) to improve the socio-economic conditions of fisherman and others engaged in fisheries

c) to create additional employment opportunities in fish culture and ancillary industries to improve socio-economic condition and ensure better standard of living of the fishing community.

d) to develop fish production and fisheries management technology.

e) to train required manpower at all levels for facilitating the transfer of technology.

f) to increase foreign exchange earnings through export of fish and fish products.

g) to improve general environment and conserve ecosystem.

h) to conserve fishery resources for sustainable development.

Except for a small quality of fish produced in Government farms and limited quantity of fish harvested by BFDC trawlers, all production activities are undertaken by the private sector. Besides, private sector is almost entirely involved in marketing, processing, export and other related activities in the fisheries sector. The Government policy is, therefore, aimed at providing technical advice and support services to the private sector.

In order to foster recovery of the dwindling stocks and to improve fish production, Government have adopted the following strategies:

(1) Large-scale stocking of inland openwater and inundated floodplains with rigid enforcement of fish and fish habitat conservation practices.

(2) Identification of new fishing grounds in marine waters through surveys and explore the possibility of exploiting un-exploited or under-exploited resources.

(3) Intensification of aquaculture practices to obtain increased production per unit area.

(4) Policy support for improving quality of fish and fish products for local consumption as well as for export.

(5) Develop adequate infrastructure to support planned expansion of shrimp culture in the private sector.

(6) Formulation and implementation of a well-defined land/water use policy to avoid wasteful resources conflicts along with effective measures against dumping of industrial and other wastes into openwater systems.

(7) Development of skilled manpower, appropriate research & technologies expended institutional/organisational capabilities to plan and implement development activities.

(8) Biological management of water bodies with a view to obtain yield at maximum sustainable yield (NESY) level.


Bangladesh became an independent state in December 1971. The First Five Year Development Plan (1973-78), was followed by a two Year Plan (TYP) (1979-80). Second and Third Five Year Plans were implemented during 1980-85 and 1985-90. The country is currently implementing its Fourth 5-Year Plan. The broad objectives and targets for all the development plans have been more or less the same i.e. increasing fish production for domestic consumption and export, generating employment opportunities, improving socio-economic conditions of fisherfolk, conserving the resources etc. Fish production targets, achievements and utilization of fund during different plans are furnished below:


Target ‘000 tons

Production achieved ‘000 tons

FFYP (1973-78)



TYP (1978-80)



SFYP (1980-85)



TFYP (1985-90)




Allocation (N)

Actual utilization

% utilization

FFYP (1973-78)




TYP (1978-79)




SFYP (1980-85)




TFYP (1985-90)




In addition to the various stresses on the inland, coastal and marine waters, there are a number of institutional and social constraints impeding fisheries development. Major factors are inadequate investment, lack of appropriate technologies, lack of infra-structural facilities in potential but remote areas of production, inadequate extension service, institutional weakness in planning, implementation and monitoring of fisheries sector and inadequate trained and motivated manpower. On top of everything, there is no national policy on development of fisheries in the country. Of late the MOFL has prepared a draft policy paper which is expected to be finalized soon.

The fish production target during the terminal year of the Fourth Five Year Plan (1990-95) has been set at 1.2 million tons. At the same time, target for export earnings during the FFYP is set at 64,000 tons and Taka 9715 million. In order to implement the fisheries development programmes Taka 7,490 million has been allocated for public sector during the FFYP. This includes Taka 2,210 million for implementation of ongoing projects spilled over from the TFYP. In addition to the public sector allocation of Taka 7,490 an amount of Taka 6,000 million is expected to be invested by the private sector for implementation of the fisheries development programmes.


a) There had been a continuous decline of fish catches from inland openwater sources since 1983-84.

b) There had been a substantial increase in production from closed water culture fisheries.

c) The Government recognized the need for rehabilitating the openwater fishery resources and initiated large-scale stocking of carp fingerlings in floodplains since 1989.

d) The IDA financed oxbow lake project demonstrated that fish yield in ox-bow lakes can be increased from 100 kg to 950 kg/ha/year through appropriate culture-based management.

e) The Government has successfully demonstrated the operation of large-scale carp hatcheries and nurseries in the early 1980s and private sector took up these operations quickly and provided a big boost to aquaculture.

f) The rapid expansion of shrimp culture during the 1980s had been one of the most-remarkable development in the country’s fisheries sector. From an estimated 51,834 ha of shrimp farms in 1983-84 the area had expanded to 108,000 ha in 1989-90 with a production of 18,235 tons from 7,578 tons in 1983-84.

g) Based on the success of the first phase Baor Development project, a second phase project for development of 30 baors in the greater districts of Jessore, Kustia and Faridpur has been taken up. In this project the fishermen with the assistance of an NGO (BARC) will develop, operate and manage the baors to receive 100% benefit from the production. The DOF shall, however, provide infrastructure like roads, electricity, fish landing and storage facilities.

h) The New Fisheries Management Policy as initiated in 1987 to improve productivity, allows access to a fishery directly to the fishermen.

i) There had been an outbreak of FUS disease in the country in 1988 which caused considerable decline in fish production.

j) The NGO’s initiated programmes for fisheries development by involving and organizing fishermen groups, fish farmers and unemployed youths.

k) The Fisheries Research Institute was established and became operational in 1986. It has developed relevant technologies in freshwater aquaculture.

l) The development partners gave adequate priority to fisheries sector and contributed to increased spending which was 70% in 1988-89 as against 40% in 1982-83.


The following strategies have been identified for achieving the objectives of fisheries development.

a) Development of appropriate technologies for increasing production in open and closed water bodies.

b) Development of skilled manpower.

c) Strengthening of institutional/organizational capabilities to plan and implement development activities.

d) Biological management of Jalmohals by providing fishing right to genuine fishermen and gradual replacement of existing leasing system.

e) Application of culture-based fisheries enhancement programme for replenishment of openwater fisheries.

f) Rigourous enforcement of fish and fish habitat conservation practices.

g) Development of effective mechanism for transfer of technology.

h) Gradual intensification of aquaculture practices to obtain increased yield per unit area.


A number of diverse and complex problems confront fisheries development in Bangladesh. Some of these constraints are listed below:

a) Absence of statistics on catch and effort over time and space by gear types and lack of understanding of parameters of hydrology, fish stocks and dynamics of their populations make estimation of exploitation structure and MSY difficult.

b) Lack of suitable and tested model for estimation of stock and MSY for multispecies, multigear tropical fisheries.

c) Dearth of information on size composition, annual recruitment and migration of larvae and juveniles to and from the coastal waters.

d) Weak data base on inland fishery resources.

e) Anthropogenic stresses such as over abstraction of water for irrigation, construction of embankments for flood control, siltation of river beds, pollution from urban, industrial and agricultural runoff, over-exploitation and destructive fishing practices leading to mortality of fish and fish food organisms, preventing natural recruitment, destruction of breeding grounds and impediments in fish migration are the major environmental constraints.

f) Salinity incursions into the estuaries is increasing and moving upstream for fall in headwater flow.

g) Regulations have played a subordinate role in protecting the fisheries owing to lack of enforcement machinery.

h) The complexity of factors involved in the regulation of fisheries stems from the common property nature of the resources, difficulties in enforcing a limited entry concept, divergent leasing policies and multiplicity of agencies that control the water resources.

i) Over-population of the coastal zone, low social, educational and economic status of fishermen, lack of alternative incomes and lower environmental awareness cause increased pressure on the coastal resources.

j) Industrial effluents cause direct fish kills, destruction of habitats for benthic and planktonic communities and toxicity to fish organisms. Municipal wastes cause deoxygenation, high BOD load, rapid eutrophication and bio-accumulation of pesticides and heavy metals.

l) Weak extension capabilities of fisheries extension agencies including DOF cause problem in transfer of technology.

k) Institutional credit for fishermen, fish farmers and other aquaculture entrepreneurs are not available because of high interest rate and security and collateral problems.


The Department of Fisheries currently implements 7 investment and 5 technical assistance projects. Total investment cost for the 12 ongoing projects is taka 636 crore with a provision of taka 87 crore in the annual development programme. Current development spending is highest in the history of the Department of Fisheries.

The projects are designed to develop and implement programmes for

i) enhancement of productivity of inland openwater resources through massive stocking of carp fingerling.

ii) development of fresh and brackishwater aquaculture through demonstration and transfer of technology.

iii) development of infrastructure like hatcheries, training centers, demonstration farms to support private sector entrepreneurs and

iv) development and strengthening of DOF infrastructure.

Bangladesh Water Development Board implements Shrimp Culture infrastructure development component of the IDA assisted Shrimp Culture and Third Fisheries Project. To deliver the needed credit for aquaculture and fisheries development in the country, the Bangladesh Bank and Several Commercial Banks implement credit component of the IDA assisted Shrimp Culture Project and ADB assisted 2nd Aquaculture Development Project. Total provision for aquaculture and fisheries credit in these projects is taka 129 crore. In addition, the Fisheries Research Institute implements research component of the Third Fisheries Project.

Several other projects are in the pipeline. The following three projects are under preparation for implementation from the next financial year with Danida assistance.

i) Second phase Aquaculture Extension Project, Hymensingh-Dhaka.
ii) Shrimp-carp polyculture development in greater Noakhali.
iii) Fisheries development in Patuakhali and Borguna.


As already stated a number of diverse and complex problems confront fisheries development in the country. Research needs in capture and culture fisheries of both freshwater and marine sector have been identified. Fisheries Research Stations in the Country should address these issues and develop, test and refine appropriate technologies by undertaking adaptive research both in laboratories as well as in the field. Technologies to be developed should be economically feasible, commercially viable and socially acceptable. Once such technologies are developed and refined the extension agents should be responsible for the transfer of technology in the form of simple messages. A co-ordinated research approach with active participation of farmers, researchers and extension agents is essential.