Inland and Marine Fishing in Bangladesh and Local Culture

Marine fishing is growing in various especially in the coastal country. Let’s know detail about inland and marine fishing in Bangladesh. There are two types of fisheries:

  • Inland fishing (about 70%)
  • Marine fishing, including brackish water (about 30%)

Apart from fish, marine life resources of Bangladesh include shrimps, turtles, and other crustaceans.

Inland and Marine Fishing in Bangladesh

As well as fishing in rivers, it is common practice to rear fish in closed water bodies such as ponds and lakes. Such ventures yield about 30% of the total annual fish production in the country.

Main fishing methods

  • For fishing in shallow waters, fishermen make rafts with various local names such as Bhela, Bhera, Chali, Bhura.
  • Although people usually use various tools and equipment to catch the fish, there are some who still use their bare hands.
  • There are others who use crude tools to ‘wind’ the fish and bring them in. These are known by their local names—Ek kata, Takata, Anchara, and Kich.
  • The typical line method is also quite common, while others use forms of traps made usually from bamboo. Some local names of these traps are chai, began, and Chandi Bair.
  • Nets of various sizes and shapes are also used, with varying sizes of the mesh. The type of net used depends also on the location in the water where it is placed. You can see photos of fishing using nets.
Inland and Marine Fishing in Bangladesh
Inland and Marine Fishing in Bangladesh

Types of inland fish caught

There are about 267 species that are known to belong to the inland fisheries. Of these, then main commercial ones are Silver Carp, Grass Carp, Common Carp, Tilapia, Catfish, Thai Pangas, and Sor Puti.

Fish typesTypes of inland fisheries
RiversSundarbansBeelsFlood PlainsBoarsPondsKaptai LakeShrimp farms
Major carps11871335766447577461231
Exotic carps4297815
Other carps1024158712047288
Shrimp (Large)114154012400
Shrimp (small)17662255237613725156725489
Miscellaneous inland fish818366297351161250962634198731177359

Other fish cultures and developments

Other fish culture techniques that have been developed locally include the poultry-cum-fish culture, integrated rice-fish culture, and various polycultures.

In the tidal areas of Bagerhat, Khulna, and Satkira and in the mangrove forests of Chakoria and Teknaf, a rotation of aquaculture and agriculture is practiced. During times of high salinity, marine shrimp and fin-fishes are cultured.

In times of low salinity, the areas are used to grow paddy rice. This practice is known locally as the Bheri/Gher culture. Some farmers may even combine freshwater prawn and other fishes such as Tilapia, Carp, and Thai Puti. In Chittagong, shrimp and salt production are alternated in a similar manner.

Scope for increasing fish production

Intergraded farming systems, development of nutritious fish feed, improvement of breeding techniques, and new cultural practices for indigenous and endangered species will help to increase the annual production of this sector in the future.

Genetically engineered species, leading to the genetic development of the cultures, along with the development of aquaculture in derelict ponds, irrigation canals, roadside ditches, and floodplains, may further augment the fish production in the country.

Marine fishing

Bangladesh is bounded by the Bay of Bengal to the south; with a coastline of about 480 km. Bangladesh has territorial water of about 20 nautical km from the coast, and then an exclusive economic zone, which extends about 320 nautical km from the territorial Waters. Therefore, the areas of the marine fisheries zone are more than 200,000

This vast area needs proper exploration, exploitation, conservation, and management. The potential of the Bay of Bengal in terms of fish and shrimp production is speculated to be more than 1,57,000 million tons per year. Annually, 350,000 to 400,000 million tons of marine fish and shrimp are harvested in Bangladesh.

Due to the absence of ocean current in the Bay of Bengal, there is no nutrient recycling process. A great volume of freshwater, together with a huge of organic and inorganic nutrients, is added to the Bay of Bengal annually by the combined flow of the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and the Meghna. This mixing of fresh and marine waters into the shelf area creates one of the fish to thrive.

The warm tropical climate, with nutrient-rich saline water along the continental shelf, provides favorable conditions for the rapid growth and development of the shrimps. Small-scale fishing craft, such as traditional motorized boats, use set bag nets, trammel nets, beach seines, longlines, and gill nets to catch shrimps.

Khepupara, Patharghata, and Khulna for marine catches.

Main fishing methods

  • Most of the fish are caught by traditional fishing boats or mechanized boats, with the help of fixed and drift gillnets, set bag nets, and long lines.
  • There are three types of fishing craft made traditionally in Bangladesh: Balams for marine water and dinghies and Chandies for brackish waters.
  • For fishing in the open seas, fishing vessels (such as side trawlers, stern trawlers, beam trawlers, wet fish trawlers, and freezer trawlers) with powerful engines are constructed, equipped with machinery for bringing in large catches.

Types of marine fish caught

 Marine fish can be classified as Pelagic or Demersal:


Pelagic fish

Demersal fish
Habitat The upper zone of the seaOn/bottom of the sea
ExamplesMackerel, Dogfish, shark (small variety)Jawfish, Catfish, Goatfish

Although the Bay of Bengal has about 442 species of marine fish, only about 20 species are harvested commercially.

Some 24 species of shark are found in the marine waters of Bangladesh. Sharks come as a by-catch in the fishermen’s nets. Sharks are not a primary target species in marine fishing. Nonetheless, Bangladesh exported about 212m tons of shark fin and fish maws worth Tk. 166.00 million (the U.S. $ 3.5 million) in 1994-95. Tribal people also eat shark meat and fin.

Marine shrimp fishing

In Bangladesh, about 125,000 hectares of the coastal area is now under shrimp cultivation. Marine shrimps provide a livelihood to thousands of people, and the country earns about 270 million US dollars a year from shrimp export.

Banana shrimps, White shrimps, Green Tiger shrimps, Brown shrimps, and Tiger shrimps are of commercial importance. They are caught mainly along the coast of Cox’s Bazar and Khulan, with Tiger shrimps in particular abundance to the southwest of St. Martin’s Island.

Developments: traditional fishing

Marine fishing industries in Bangladesh are still predominantly traditional. During the last 40 years, an engine was fixed to traditional fishing boats to gain more mobility to go out into the open seas. Otherwise, marine fishing is essentially limited to coastal fishing in Bangladesh, where a limited number of species are targeted, often leading to over-exploitation.

Fishermen who generally carry out fishing activities in the coastal and shallow seas use low-cost craft and unskilled works. The number of marine fishermen increased from 200,000 to 500,000 in the last two decades because of high demographic pressure and unemployment.

The number of mechanized boats increased from 200 to 10,000 and non-mechanized decreased from 40,000 to 14,000 in the same period.

About 80% of fishermen are illiterate and about 70% are landless. Business frequently lends them money in advance with interest rates greater than 120% per year, which does not help the fishermen to become self-reliant.

The marine fishing season is from October to March; when the sea is rough, fishermen switch to freshwater fishing. The short marine fishing season and the increased number of fishermen have adversely affected their income.

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15 thoughts on “Inland and Marine Fishing in Bangladesh and Local Culture”

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