POST TIME: 13 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Protecting native fish crucial

Protecting native fish crucial

In the wake of regular filling up of water-bodies like canals and ponds, a wide variety of native small fish, widely known for their high nutrition value, is facing extinction. To counter this trend, specialists have asked for small indigenous fish, which were once found in abundance across Bangladesh, to be cultivated through strategic initiatives.

This is indeed a timely call since, gastronomically, fish and rice form the main dish for Bangladeshis. Therefore, it’s in the interest of the country to ensure the preservation of local fish which are known to be repositories of minerals, vitamins and other nutrients.

Once open water bodies are offered to potential native fish cultivators in a form of lease, the local aquatic species can be protected and consumed by all. In this country, there are fish hatcheries in the southern districts though these mainly focus on prawns or other bigger variety of fish that have lucrative markets abroad. Interestingly, different types of small fish can also have a market overseas once they are sent to international fish shows and expositions with special highlight on their health value.

We need more public private partnerships in this sector with knowledge plus technology based support from the government.

In this regard, each district can have a fish development centre providing expertise and other help. However, the main impediment to widespread fish production is the rapacious occupation of water bodies to fill up for buildings. Unless this indiscriminate occupation is dealt with, a country wide fish revolution will only remain an illusion.

Practically speaking, it won’t be possible to stop water body filling up completely; though if district authorities specify that certain number of water bodies have to be maintained, this appalling activity can be minimized. To look from another angle, without enough water bodies, the ecology of a certain area becomes prone to environmental degradation. Dhaka was once a city of small ponds where many families cultivated fish for their own consumption. While scarcity of land resulted in most of these ponds being filled up for construction, the adverse impact is felt in the claustrophobic nature of urban life, where concrete has totally overtaken nature. Also, in our quest to become cosmopolitan, new kinds of fish, not native to Bangladesh, are being consumed.

While eclectic taste-buds should not be condemned, passion for our own fish must not be killed either. Through a strategic approach, urban planners may be inspired to reserve a spot of land in front of high rises where fish can be cultivated.