NARSINGDI: A new formula of fish farming, known as cage system, is increasing in flowing water of rivers and canals in many district of the country, raising hopes for production of fish.
Fishes, mostly Rui, Pangas, Boaal, Magur, Pholi Butter Catfish and Koi are now farmed in nearly 10,000 cages in rivers where such farming did not exist even a decade ago.The apply, under which fishes are grown in mesh enclosures, has extended as farmers have found it to be gainful because of the scope to grow a higher quantity of fishes in cages compared to ponds, according to fisheries officials and researchers.
Therefore, the fisheries and livestock ministry is working to frame a policy on cage system in inland water, which remains available despite the huge potential to augment production of fish.
Bangladesh has 10.50 lakh hectare areas of rivers and estuaries, and public water bodies represent lakes and swamps, according to the DoF.
Fisheries officials said cage culture can’t only increase the overall production but also raise the input of open water bodies to the annual production of fishes.
Some 30 percent of the 48.78 lakh tonnes of fishes were produced in open water bodies in 2017-18. Aquaculture accounted for 60 percent of the total fish output in the year, according to the DoF.
The policy said cage system is not flourishing as expected in absence of legally supported user rights to grow fish in flowing water, also miserly the government of revenues.The draft policy seeks to include all flowing rivers and water bodies that are suitable for cage culture. It said interested people will have to apply to an upazila committee stating the name and location of the water body where they want to do cage culture.
Some 15-20 percent of the water bodies in the country can be used for cage culture if floating feed is used. On the other hand, cages could be established on 6 percent area of a river if sinking fish feed is used, according to the policy.
District fisheries officer in Narsingdi, said the number of cages had risen faster when the farming method was introduced. Later, the growth slowed owing to the rising prices of feed. “Many poor farmers had to quit because of the high prices of feed,” he said.
Narsingdi is one of the pioneering districts in cage culture in the country.
The farming of fish in cages is not without environmental concern.
Another concern is rivers are a major source of other types of fishes, but all fishes are not suitable for cage culture.
In order to address the environmental concerns, the DoF plans to allow cage culture in certain areas of a river, not in the whole river.