Bangladesh is lagging in fish export for lack of effective policies although fish production has significantly increased in a decade with the adoption of improved fish farming technology, fisheries officials said.
Fisheries officials have observed that coordination between different ministries concerned should be strengthen to help increase the export of fish and fish products.
According to statistics available with Department of Fisheries, total fish production in the country increased to 32.61 lakh tonnes in 2012 from 19.98 lakh tonnes in 2003.
Of the total fish production, about 29.3 per cent comes from inland open water catch, 17.7 per cent from marine catch and 52.9 per cent from fish farming.
In 2011-12, Bangladesh exported 92,479 tonnes fish and fish products, mostly frozen shrimp and shrimp products rather than frozen fish and fish products, and earned about US$600 million.
Fisheries department chief extension officer Krisnendu Saha said that fish farming, now booming in the country, might be a potential source of earning foreign currencies through export.
He, however, said that no significant amount of farmed fish was being currently exported for lack of policy.
He said that small amount of freshwater fishes including tengra, pabda and kai were being exported to Middle East and other countries.
A quality control wing officials at the department said that carps, tilapia and pangas species were dominant in fish farming which was considered to be the main source of fish intake of the country’s low and middle income people because of to their lower price in local markets.
Carps, tilapia and pangas can be exported to global markets, he said, adding that Bangladesh needed to compete with China, Thailand and Vietnam, the major fish exporters from Asia.
Referring to a 2012 Food and Agricultural Organization report, fish genetic specialist M Gulam Hussain said that 83.8 per cent of total global aquaculture production in 2010 came from top ten countries of whom the top six countries were from Asia.
Except China (61.35 per cent), South and South East Asia contributes about 15.9 per cent of total fish farming outputs, he said.
Bangladesh, accounting for 2.19 per cent of total production, was ranked fifth, while India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand accounted for 7.77, 4.46, 3.85 and 2.15 per cent and were ranked second, third, fourth and sixth respectively, he said.
Gulam Hussain, also former Bangladesh Fish Research Institute director general, said that no attempt was yet made by the government and the private investors to develop fish processing industries in Bangladesh.
There is enormous scope to develop marine aquaculture involving tilapia, hilsa and other desirable marine species like sardines, marine crabs, white-leg shrimp and mud crabs in suitable medium saline coastal zones of Bay of Bengal, he added.