Fish Conserving The Home-Grown Species
This year, national Fisheries Week is being observed from July 21 to 27 with the theme "Machh Utpadan Briddhi Kori, Shukhi Samriddha Desh Gori" ('Increase fish production; build a happy and prosperous country'). According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (2020), Bangladesh has moved up to the second spot in the world in terms of growth rate of freshwater fish production. We are self-sufficient in fish production. At present, we are consuming 62.58 grams of fish against the daily demand of 60 grams per capita.
Fish resources are an indispensable element of our economy. The people of Bangladesh are known as - mache-bhate bangali. 80% protein demands are met by fish in our country. Bangladesh is number 2 in global fish production after Indonesia. Every year, Bangladesh produces different types of coastal and river water fish. There are 475 species of marine fish and more than 250 varieties of freshwater fish in the country. Day by day, a huge demand for shrimp, crabs, snails, and other fisheries resources in the regional and international markets is extended.
The climate, weather, environment, water bodies are apposite for various fish farming. But, in the era of bioterrorism, total farming system has been fallen into commercial cultivation through hybridization and genetically modified foods. In Bangladesh, there are 8545 bunged water bodies - 3.46 lac acres and 3773 open water bodies- 27.82 lac acres. Most of them are under contract farming by local farmers and national or international agencies. As a result, intensification (extraction of ground water, agrochemicals, hybrid seeds and patent) of water bodies makes it suitable only for hybrid fish, not for indigenous fish.
On the other hand, our local rivers are losing her ecological and physical stability due to the land grabbers. Through the establishing of unplanned switch gate, culvert, bridge, our local rivers are exterminating. Some of them are - mathavanga, kopotakkho, kaligongha, halda, gouri, baleshor, horinghata, muktesshori, chetona, vodra, horihor etc. in this context, ecological insurgencies are intensifying.
At the same time, our indigenous fish resources are losing its breeding ground for future fish population. Some examples of indigenous fish are - vetki, mola, topse, dhela, darkina, jeol, puti, pabda, vol, chanda, bele, tengra, bashpata etc. They are guiltless sufferer of anthropogenic activities and contract farming. They are losing from existing ecosystem. About 58 types of fish are under extinction.
In general, indigenous fish resources are very essential for food chain and water ecosystem. If they are losing, our food chain will be under menace. Our government is very cooperative to protect indigenous fish. We have plethora of laws and policies - protection and conservation of fish act, environment policy, the marine fisheries ordinance, water policy, and agricultural policy. Government have to come forward to address - illegal construction in water bodies, land encroachment, river encroachment, use of current net and fishing net. Time has come to protect water bodies from rent-seekers. Department of Fisheries may continue to produce, market, and export fish amid the pandemic.
To conclude, people have to responsive about the fortification of home-grown fish, not only for food chain and nutrition security but also for water biodiversity.
(Shishir Reza is environment analyst & Associate Member of Bangladesh Economic Association)