Farming of economically important Bhetki/Koral fish (Asian Seabass) in Bagerhat rivers has shown huge prospects.
Bagerhat Shrimp Research Centre started the farming in cases on an experimental basis, and so far the result is satisfactory. After the completion of the experiment, the research centre will share the techniques with fishermen.
The centre hopes fish farmers will benefit from cultivating Bhetki fish using their technique.
In December last year, the centre had informed that cages were made with nets, wood, bamboo and plastic drums under a project.
After the construction of the cages and other works, 900 coral fry were released in nine cages on 22 February this year. Each coral fry weighing 69 grams weighed 350-400 grams on 26 June. A few of them were even 500 grams.
The 19cm long fry have now grown to an average of 33cm. Its mortality rate was very low when cultivated in cages. Out of 900 fries, only 10 died. As a result, researchers are seeing huge possibilities.
The project, which started in July last year, will end in June 2023. During this time, the rate of mortality and growth, eating habits and other aspects of cage coral farming will come up in several steps.
Three employees – Md Khushi Mia, Md Roman and Md Sajib Sheikh – work on this research project full time in three shifts. They feed the fries and take care of other maintenance. According to the researchers, after a few more experiments, the pilot project can be launched on a commercial basis.
Dr ASM Tanbirul Haque, senior scientific officer of Bagerhat Shrimp Research Center, said, "First, we are farming corals in cages in flowing salty water. We are observing their adaptive nature in the cages; whether they are gaining weight properly or not; also whether they are facing any other obstacles while growing up in these cages. We are also closely monitoring whether the farmers will benefit if they sell the fish."
"We are very optimistic because coral fry mortality rate is very low here. The growth of the fries in the cages is also very good. Live (small carp fry) food is also being provided as per their need," he added.
He further said, "New fry will be released every six months as per the scheduled time of the project. The grown-up fish will be transferred to another place. On the basis of the success of this pilot project the core technology will be made available to the farmers."
Some local fishermen said they usually cultivate shrimp and carp type fish in the area. While catching these, one or two patari fish are found. These fishes are usually very tasty and costly. In markets, those fish sell for Tk400-700 per kilogram.
But these fishes cannot be cultivated with other fishes. So, they do not cultivate them.
Dr Nilufa Yasmin, chief scientific officer of the Bagerhat Shrimp Research Center, said, "The local name of Bhetki fish is Koral while some call them Patari fish. This is an economically important fish for the southern area."
"The Bhetki fish project has been taken up at the request of the fisheries and animal resources minister. Farmers will benefit from this project," she added.