The prime minister also said fish production in the last 10 years has increased by 58.35%
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday stressed the importance of maintaining the international standard of fish and fish products for export as riverine Bangladesh can grab the first position in the world in producing fish from inland water bodies.
"It's very essential to maintain the quality of fish (and fish products) which we're exporting to foreign markets," she said while inaugurating the National Fish Week 2019 in the city.
The prime minister said once there was no good laboratory to ensure the quality of fish and fish products in the country, but her government set up three ISO-accredited laboratories in Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna to maintain the international standard of fish and fish products.
The Department of Fisheries under the Fisheries and Livestock Ministry arranged the event at the auditorium of Krishibid Institution Bangladesh (KIB).
"The fish which we'll export should be of good quality so that those can enter the international markets," Sheikh Hasina said.
The prime minister mentioned that there had been some unpleasant incidents over fish export while shrimp export faced suspension in the past when BNP was in power.
Assuming office in 1996, she said, the Awami League government resumed the shrimp export.
The prime minister said the fish production in the last 10 years had increased by 58.35% to about 4.277 million metric tons. "Our target is to increase the production to 4.5 million metric tons, not to remain stuck at 4.277 million metric tons."
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation's report of 2018, Bangladesh ranked third in producing fish from inland water bodies in the world, she noted.
"Bangladesh is a riverine country. In Sh Allah, we'll be able to grab the first place (in the world) in the future coming out of the third place," Sheikh Hasina said.
At the inaugural ceremony, the prime minister also distributed “National Fisheries Award 2019” among a number of individuals and organizations for their contributions to the fisheries sector.
A video presentation was made depicting the country's success in the fisheries sector.
State Minister for Fisheries and Livestock Md Ashraf Ali Khan Khasru presided over the function, while Fisheries and Livestock Secretary Md Raisul Alam Mondal delivered the welcome speech.
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Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Fisheries and Livestock Ministry Dhirendra Debnath Shambhu was also present.
Director General of Fisheries Department Abu Sayed Md Rashedul Haque conducted the award distribution function.
Later, the prime minister opened a fish fair on the KIB premises.
The prime minister said her government had taken an initiative to revive all the inland open water bodies, including ponds, canals and beels through local government bodies and other institutions.
She said the government had already started dredging works in the country's rivers to boost water flow and conservation capacity.
Noting that fish is the main source of animal protein, she said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman launched a fisheries development campaign by releasing fish fry in the Ganabhaban Lake in 1973 to inspire people for increasing the fish production.
Bangabandhu mentioned fish as a potential export product along with jute, leather and tea, she said.
Sheikh Hasina, also the eldest daughter of Bangabandhu, said: "Had the Father of the Nation remained alive, Bangladesh would have become a developed and prosperous country in the world within 10 years of its independence."
Mentioning that the poverty rate declined to 21% from 40% after her government came to power in 2009, she said the purchasing power and financial solvency of people had increased.
Since the demand of fish is increasing alongside the rise in purchasing power in the country, the government had taken various measures to enhance fish production, she added.
The prime minister said Bangladesh had a source of diversified fishery resources. More than 11% people in the country were directly or indirectly involved in fish cultivation, she said.
The contribution of the fisheries sector to GDP is about 3.61%. Fish also provides about 60% of the total animal protein intake, she said.
“With a view to ensuring the rights of genuine fishermen in the Jalmahal, the government has formulated new `Jalmahal Policy' and enlisted the fishermen and provided them with identity cards,” Sheikh Hasina said.
She said her government had formulated “Hatchery Acts and Rules” and “Fish and Animal Feed Acts and Rules” and established fish sanctuaries and Shrimp Research Institutem, Bagerhat.
"Ilish is our national fish. Measures have been taken to protect the mother fish during spawning period and to prevent the destruction of 'Jatkailish' for boosting the ilish production," she said.
The prime minister said the government formulated a blue economy policy to utilize and collect the huge marine resources.
“The approval for providing license to nine long-liners and seven purse seiners has been given to encourage deep sea fishing, preferably of tuna and tuna like species. But the response to deep sea fishing is poor,” she added.
Talking about the sacrificial animals ahead of the holy Eid-ul-Azha, the prime minister directed the authorities concerned to take necessary measures so that the animals will be slaughtered in designated places to keep the environment clean.
She urged people to collect rawhides in scientific ways and utilize the leftover of the animals properly.