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Advancing aquaculture production with better quality fish seed

Improving Carp Seed Quality in Greater Noakhali and Greater Barisal, Bangladesh
Project leader
Benoy Kumar Barman
23 Jun 2010
22 Jun 2012
The Greater Noakhali and Greater Barisal areas of southern Bangladesh include large numbers of rivers, ponds, floodplains, waterlogged paddy fields, canals and tributaries of the Meghna River. These areas have a long history of fisheries production. In the past, fish farmers have depended on natural fish seed collected from breeding grounds such as Halda River. However, the expansion and intensification of aquaculture has reached a point where the demand for fish seed can only be satisfied by hatchery production.

A national priority for increasing fish production

Productivity from many of these water bodies is decreasing. At issue is the quality of fish seed from local and regional hatcheries. Fish seed accounts for approximately 30% of production costs, and the use of poor quality seed results in low growth, low production and poor profits for pond owners; indeed they push poor and marginal farmers into greater economic risk. It is believed that much of the carp seed currently stocked suffers from inbreeding, inter-species hybridization and, overall, is genetically degraded.

The need to improve the quality of fish seed has been recognized. It is now considered one of the most important national priorities for increasing production of fish in Bangladesh. The WorldFish Center has been contracted to assist the Regional Fisheries and Livestock Development Project (RFLDC), which is one the components of the DANIDA-aided Agriculture Sector Programme Support (ASPS), in addressing this issue. The project is done in collaboration with RFLDC and the Bangladesh Department of Fisheries to support private sector involvement in fish seed production and distribution in the project areas.

The approach taken by this project has started with an initial assessment of the current quality of fish seed and consultation with local stakeholders. This has been followed by a determination of the causes behind the poor quality of seed production with attention paid to the management of local hatcheries. The necessary measures will then be taken to improve fish seed through broodstock management, breeding protocols, and water quality management. Project activities include a performance evaluation trial of the resulting improved fish seed.

Follow up work will link members of the fish seed value chain (nurseries, traders, grow-out farmers and pond owners) with the hatcheries. To complete the project, a certification/accreditation system will be developed and implemented so that farmers purchasing seed from certified, government endorsed hatcheries can trust the product they receive. Assistance will be provided to develop simple extension materials and strategies to encourage the wider use of the improved carp seed.

Lessons learned from the project area will be extended both geographically into other regions, and used as a model to improve the quality of fish seed for tilapia and pangasius.