A new study has found that Bangladesh can increase its fish production by about 0.75 million metric tonnes by converting 0.5 million hectares of floodplains into aquaculture by 2017. If the floodplain areas are brought under the coverage of aquaculture by the period, the country will be able to earn additional Tk 75,000 million (US$ 1,000 million) apart from creating huge jobs, the Financial Express reports. Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation had the report made by four independent researchers with financial support from World Fish. An economics professor of Dhaka University, Bazlul Haque Khandker is one of those who authored the report, titled ‘A Preliminary Study on Support to Bangladesh Aquaculture Sector: Existing Reality and Scope for Improvements’. The report suggested conducting a survey to ascertain floodplains and select 0.5 million hectares in phases within 2-3 years’ time from the greater Mymensingh, Sylhet, Faridpur, Khulna, Jessore, Pabna and Comilla regions. According to official data, annual fish production has increased to 3.55 million metric tonnes in 2013-14 from 2.56 million metric tonnes in 2007-08. More than 10 per cent of the country’s population depends directly or indirectly on fisheries for their livelihood, while 60 per cent of the national animal protein consumption is met by fish. Khandker said all open floodplains and low-lying flood lands naturally retaining at least 60cm of monsoon water for at least three months at a stretch should be brought under aquaculture applying pen culture. Public lands can be leased out to groups of poor people, he said, whereas private land owners can farm fish themselves or lease out their lands to interested people only for the monsoon period or the entire year. The study predicts that improved Bagda-fish farming technology may raise shrimp production to 0.15 million metric tonnes in the country and export to US$ 1.3 billion by 2017. Expanding Golda farms from existing 50,000 hectares to 0.12 million hectares, Golda production may increase to 80,000 metric tonnes from 25,000 metric tonnes with farm-gate price of Tk 48,000 million (US$ 685 million). Dr Md Abdul Wahab, a professor of fisheries at Bangladesh Agriculture University, told a news agency that Bangladesh is producing additional 0.2 million metric tonnes of fish each year. He thinks that it is quite possible to produce 0.75 million metric tonnes of fish by 2017 through bringing haors and other floodplains under aquaculture. Fish production could be increased five times in public wetlands by introducing carp fish and protecting indigenous small fish species, he added. Aquaculture is significantly contributing to the increase of the country’s fish production. In 2013-14 fiscal, the share of inland culture fishes in total fish production was more than 50 per cent, according to official statistics. Inland open and marine fish production were almost invariable from 2001 to 2014, while inland culture and aquaculture fish production increased by 100 per cent during that period, he said. Shrimp, prawn, tilapia and pangash are among those fishes mostly cultured under aquaculture. Most importantly, major share of the fisheries products in export belongs to aquaculture, particularly the exports from shrimp and prawn. In between 2001 and 2014, total export earnings from shrimp and prawn increased more than 100 per cent.

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