Broodstock banks are urgently needed in Bangladesh, according to a study by the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA).
In Bangladesh, farming of the giant river prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) is one of the most important sectors of the national economy. In 2006, Bangladesh exported 49,317 tonnes of prawn and shrimp valued at US$415 million. This figure is expected to rise with the increasing expansion of freshwater prawn cultivation into new areas .
The giant river prawn is also known as Malaysian prawn or golda in Bangladesh.
Despite the strong demand of broodstock by the hatcheries there is no broodstock bank in Bangladesh.
Prawn farming is mostly concentrated in southwest Bangladesh, mainly Khulna, Bagerhat and Satkhira districts.
The supply of prawn fry is currently the main bottleneck for further expansion of prawn culture.
Prawn farming in Bangladesh still relies on wild postlarvae (PL), the study noted.
Farmers prefer to stock wild PL rather than hatchery produced fry as production of the hatchery PL is limited and it is considered to be of lower quality due to its lower survivability compared to its wild cousin.
Also, concern over the effects of intensive fishing of prawn PL has led the Department of Fisheries to impose a ban on wild PL collection in September 2000.
Moreover, the lack of alternative livelihoods for poor people engaged in PL fishing is one of the principal constraints on implementing such a ban.
However, there is a growing acceptance of hatchery fry by producers.
Although a prawn hatchery sector has emerged over the last few years, the quality of hatchery PL remains a concern for prawn farmers. Hatcheries are currently unregulated with no quality assurance of broodstock due to lack of information and uncertainty in demand.
NACA began a study to identify potential sources of broodstock and appropriate harvesting, marketing and transportation systems.
The study concluded that a broodstock bank in prawn farming areas is urgently needed and both the public and private sector should come forward to establish their own broodstock banks.
Hatcheries could be linked to the public and private broodstock bank to ensure the availability of quality broodstock, the study said.