Fisheries and Livestock Minister Narayon Chandra Chanda has said that the government will not allow the import of fish in an effort to protect local fisheries.
"We need to discourage the import of fish and milk power to encourage local production of adequate fish, meat and milk at international standards, to fulfil our needs," the minister said while speaking at a citizen's dialogue at CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka on Sunday.
Although Bangladesh produces the fourth most fresh water fish and black Bengal goats in the world, the contribution of meat and fish to the national GDP is very low, he said.
He added that if people had confidence in locally produced fish, meat, milk and eggs, then imports would not be necessary.
The Fisheries and Livestock minister also said it was essential to modernize the livestock sector and enhance the fishing capabilities of Bangladesh by procuring the equipment and ships necessary.
Although fish can be caught from up to 650km away from the coast in the Bay of Bengal, trawlers do not travel more than 60-100km due to a lack of facilities, he added.
In 2016, Bangladesh caught only 95,000 tons of fish from the Bay of Bengal, as compared to 8 million tons by India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Bangladeshi trawlers accounted for 11 percent of the total catch last year.
"We have vast untapped resources in the sea," said M Khurshed Alam, secretary of the Maritime Affairs Unit of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Some 69,000 artisanal mechanised and non-mechanised boats, and about 200 industrial steel body trawlers, are engaged in fishing up to 60 kilometres from the coastline, he said, adding that technology such as long lines and incentives for larger ocean going trawlers could greatly increase fish production.
"It will be good if we can catch at least 5 million tons of fish from the sea," the Maritime Affairs secretary said.
Bangladesh has taken initiatives to tap into the blue economy after it was granted the right to fish and explore resources within 118,813 sq-km of the sea, and trawl up to 200 nautical miles into the Bay of Bengal, based on a verdict from an international tribunal in 2014.