Fishing in Bangladesh

Bangladesh being a first line littoral state of the Indian Ocean has a very good source of marine resources in the Bay of Bengal. The country has an exclusive economic zone of 41,000 square miles (110,000 km2), which is 73% of the country’s land area. On the other hand, Bangladesh is a small and developing country overloaded with almost unbearable pressure of human population.

Being a river delta, you can’t walk very far in any direction without hitting water: a river, canal, rice paddy, pond or lake. This is especially true during the monsoon rainy season, when it rains almost every day. All houses have a pond near them where dirt has been scooped out to raise the base of the house several feet to be above flooding. Likewise, every road has a canal dug out next to it for the same reason.

The water is teaming with fish, which (along with lentils) provides most of the protein for people. I rarely saw people using a hook and bait and a line except on the big rivers. Instead, they have about 6 other ways to catch fish.

Weighted throw nets are one of the most common fishing tools. The weights are sewn in around the edges. As soon as they hit the water, they sink fast, trapping fish below between the muddy bottom and the net. Then they carefully pull the net closed with a drawstring. I have been told –though I don’t know how to confirm it–that it was such throw nets that the fishermen were using two thousand years ago in Jesus’ time. There is an account at the end of the Gospel of John of a stranger advising the fishermen to throw the net on the right side of the boat. They do, and the net is so full they can’t get it back into the boat. Didn’t I say that living in Bangladesh is like traveling back in time?

There is another kind of net that is normally left on the bottom of a canal. When they think fish are swimming over it, they raise it suddenly, scooping up the fish.

The kid who is spear fishing has to use some science to hit his underwater mark. Just as the giant water prism bends light, so does the water in the pond. It’s called refraction. If the kid aims right for a fish, the spear will pass over its head. He actually has to aim below the image of the fish, taking into account the angle of his line of sight, how deep the fish is, and so on.

A clever way of catching fish is with traps. Kids make them out of bamboo with one way trap doors. The kids get together to splash the water and force the fish to try to escape into another rice paddy. The fish try to squeeze past the obstruction—which is of course the trap with the trap doors.

How to catch fish with bare hands? There was a pond right outside my house in Bangladesh. Friends would come over and swim in it. One guy splashed the water in front of him, then dove in. A few seconds later he came up with a small fish in his hand. My mind refused to believe what my eyes had just witnessed! Sure that he had a bag of fish somewhere down there, I demanded that he repeat the feat in another part of the pond, a part of my choosing. Once again he splashed the water in front of him, dove under, and this time he came up with a small fish in both hands! He insisted that his hands were as fast as lightning

In the past, people of Bangladesh were mostly dependent upon land-based proteins. But, the continuous process of industrialization and urbanization consumes the limited land area.Teesta effect . Now there is no other way than to harvest the vast under water protein from the Bay of Bengal, which can meet the country’s demand.

More than 80 percent of the animal protein in the Bangladeshi diet comes from fish. Fish accounted for 6 percent of GDP in the fiscal year of 1970, nearly 50 percent more than modern industrial manufacturing at that time. Most commercial fishermen are low-caste Hindus who eke out the barest subsistence working under primitive and dangerous conditions. They bring a high degree of skill and ingenuity to their occupation; a few of the most enterprising ones are aided by domesticated otters, which behave like shepherds, swimming underwater, driving fish toward the fisherman’s net (and being rewarded themselves with a share of the catch). Fish for local consumption are generally of freshwater varieties.

As of the end of 1987, prevailing methods for culturing shrimp in Bangladesh were still relatively unsophisticated, and average yields per hectare were low. In the late 1980s, almost all inland shrimping was done by capture rather than by intensive aquaculture. Farmers relied primarily on wild postlarval and juvenile shrimp as their sources of stock, acquired either by trapping in ponds during tidal water exchange or by gathering from local estuaries and stocking directly in the ponds. Despite the seemingly low level of technology applied to shrimp aquaculture, it became an increasingly important part of the frozen seafood industry in the mid-1980s.

The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank financed projects to develop shrimp aquaculture in the 1980s. Much of the emphasis was on construction of modern hatcheries. Private investors were also initiating similar projects to increase capacity and to introduce modern technology that would increase average yields.

Training for the fishing industry of Bangladesh, as well as for merchant shipping and related maritime industries is provided by the Bangladesh Marine Fisheries Academy.

Bangladesh Marine Fisheries Academy
Bangladesh Marine Fisheries Academy(BMFA) is a government-run training institution in Bangladesh for cadets wishing to enter the fishing industry, merchant shipping and other related maritime industries. Established in 1973, it is the only national organization offering training for these professions.

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