A national workshop was held in Dhaka today 21 May 2024 to discuss about Introduction of Commercial Feed Based Seabass in the coastal region of Bangladesh as part of the country’s efforts to introduce new high value fish species both to address the adverse consequences of climate change and diversify the export basket of fisheries and aquaculture products of Bangladesh. Seabass a salinity tolerant high value fish species is traditionally produced in Bangladesh using live/trash fishes as feed with attendant risk of compromising biodiversity. Commercial feed-based seabass production carried out in many countries successfully can help avoid these risks and can offer the farmers of Bangladesh the opportunity to increase their income and improve their livelihood. Introduction of a such a product can also contribute to the country’s export earnings from the fisheries and aquaculture sector.

The workshop jointly organized by Business Promotion Council (BPC), Ministry of Commerce and Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation (BSFF) in collaboration with Department of Fisheries (DoF), Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MoFL) was informed about successful outcome of a pilot project in Cox’s Bazar to produce the species using modern production technologies and commercial feeds. H.E. Mr. Ahasanul Islam Titu, MP, Hon’ble State Minister, Ministry of Commerce was present in the workshop as the Chief Guest. It was also attended by Mr. Md. Selim Uddin, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Mr. Sayeed Mahmood Belal Haider, Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Mr. Md. Ghulam Hussain, former Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and former Chairman, NBR, Mr. Tapan Kanti Ghosh, immediate past Senior Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Dr. Cherdsak Virapat, Director General, Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP), Mr. A.H.M. Shafiquzzaman, Director General (Additional Secretary), Directorate of National Consumers’ Right Protection, Ministry of Commerce, Syed Md. Alamgir, Director General, Department of Fisheries (DoF) and Syed Mahmudul Huq, Chairman, Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation.

The participants in the workshop heard the inspiring story of successful pilot scale production of commercial feed-based seabass in the demonstration pond of Agri-Technologies and Innovation Ltd. (ATI)- a technology partner in the piloting exercise with BPC, DoF and BSFF. The Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP) and Bay of Bengal Programme (BoBP) helped with the necessary import of seabass fingerlings and feeds and production solution provided by International Experts. It was informed that during the implementation of the pilot project over a period of 8 months (6.5 months actual grow-out period in pond) imported fingerlings were nursed at the hatchery and hapa level using commercial formulated feeds. The nurtured fingelings were subsequently cultured in the grow-out pilot pond with scientific water management and proper feed administration. The pilot exercise resulted in encouraging production outcome with minimal mortality and good FCR (1.2). It was demonstrated that during the project period the fingerlings could be grown from the size of 1.5 cm to 30.2 cm with the average final weight of around 1 kg.

The workshop discussions deeply appreciated this positive pilot outcome. It was the unanimous recommendation of the workshop that follow up actions now need to be undertaken both by the governemnt and private sector stakeholders to further validate the possibility of large scale commercail feed-based seabass production in Bangladesh and widely scaling up the outcome of the just concluded pilot exercise. It was also recognized that creation of necessary backward and forward linkages through domestic production of seabass fry and formulated feeds as well as post harvest scientific management and processing of the species both for domestic consumption and export will help Bangladesh to avail new opportunity for product diversification, increased production and enhanced exports.

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