FMBC Highlights Importance of Sustainable Fishing

With the growing population in Bangladesh relying on fish as their main source of animal protein, sustainable fishing practices are of utmost importance. With this in mind, in 2011 the Bangladesh Agriculture University in Mymensingh joined forces with scientists from Stirling University’s Institute of Aquaculture in Scotland, to establish the Bangladesh Fish Museum and Biodiversity Center (FMBC). In addition to exhibits highlighting the importance of maintaining biodiversity for the future, the center aims to teach fishermen in rural areas the importance of conserving the aquatic species of Bangladesh, while at the same time making a living out of fishing.

Visitors to the Bangladesh Fish Museum and Biodiversity Center will have the opportunity to view up to 230 species of fish, of the more than 270 species found in the country. There are also preserved examples and models of species of fish that have become extinct, as well as skeletons of a dolphin, crocodile and shark on display.

Among the most prized fish as a food source in Bangladesh is the Ilish, or Hilsa Shad, of which there are three species in Bangladesh. The Hilsa Ilisha makes its way from the Bay of Bengal up freshwater rivers to spawn. Hilsa toil and Hilsa kelee remain in the Bay of Bengal. Hilsa Ilisha are caught at different stages of their life-cycle during their journey, and are referred to as jatka in their juvenile state. Back in 2012, Bangladeshi authorities drew attention to the dangers of over-fishing by declaring a Jatka Preservation Week in April and a ban on catching the juvenile Ilish between November and May in an attempt to allow the fish to reach the Bay of Bengal where they could mature. These measures reportedly had limited success. Nevertheless, conservationists continue their efforts in raising awareness of the importance of sustainable fishing practices.