Bangladesh has the fourth largest population of Asia with more than 150 million people and is the most densely populated country in the world. Bangladesh is located in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta, the world its largest delta, and home to the ‘sundarbans‘, one of the world’s largest remaining mangrove forests. Its long coastline connects Bangladesh in the southwest to India and in the southeast to Myanmar. While textiles is by far the most important sector for its economy in terms of GDP, almost 50% of Bangladesh its labour force still depends on the agricultural sector. Aquaculture, fisheries, and related processing are important for its economy in terms of food security, employment and export earnings. The aquaculture sector consists of brackish and fresh water shrimp production and the production of various fresh water fishes such as carps, tilapia and pangasius. Its capture fishery consists of a well developed inland fishery and relatively underdeveloped marine fishery.

In Bangladesh
  • Factory

Sourcing news

Species in Bangladesh

Click on the species and find out more about the species in Bangladesh

Bangladesh its seafood sector

According to the annual report of the Department of Fisheries of 2016 fisheries contribute almost 3.6% to Bangladesh its total GDP and just over 23.81% to its agricultural GDP. Fish supplies 60% of the total animal protein in the country and fish is widely consumed both in inland as well as coastal communities. The sector employs more than 17.8 million people (11% of the total population) of which more than 1.4 million are women. In total Bangladesh produces 3.6 million tonnes of fish and shrimp. Over 55% is produced in inland and coastal aquaculture, and about 45% from inland (two thirds) and marine fisheries (one third). According to FAO, Bangladesh ranks at 5th in the world as aquaculture producer. Bangladesh’s aquaculture production is impressive, with an average growth of 5.25% over the last 10 years, while farming is dominated by small scale farmers. Commercial farming enterprises only represent a small part of production. The Bangladeshi government is trying to sustain this growth to achieve a projected production target of 4.55 million MT by 2020-2021. Contrary to aquaculture and inland fisheries, marine fisheries are underdeveloped. Bangladesh has a fishing fleet of 225 industrial trawlers and around 68,000 smaller mechanized and non-mechanized fishing boats. Despite the relatively small fishing fleet, wild stocks are increasingly depleted and livelihoods of fisherman are under pressure.

Fisheries and aquaculture production

Source: FAO (2018)

Capture fisheries production in Bangladesh has been stable, while aquaculture production steadily increased. Aquaculture production increased approximately 140,000 tonnes from 2015-2016. Freshwater fish production took account for the largest part of aquaculture production growth (79%). It is expected that future growth from aquaculture will continue to come from fresh water fishes and potentially also from the expansion of more intensive (brackish water) farming practices, which grew with 14% in the period from 2015 to 2016.

Species composition in 2016 (volume in tonnes)

Source: FAO (2018)

Cultured freshwater fish represents over 50% of total production. Although traditional culture of carps in polyculture systems is still almost 1 million tonnes per year, the expansion of monoculture of tilapia and pangasius represents the increase of production. Currently tilapia and pangasius are largely consumed in the domestic market. However some market players make investments to access export markets as well.

Seafood export markets

Trade Map (2018), International Trade Centre,

The decrease in exports to the European Union, that started with an European Union ban in 2010 due to antibiotics in shrimp, was at its depth in 2013. Exports to the European Union recovered after that, but decreased again sharply after 2014 and continue to decline. The initial recovery was mainly due to improved procedures in Bangladesh with regard to

the provision of health certificates by the food safety department of the Department of Fisheries (FIQC). The requirements for health certificates had been reduced by the European Union in 2015 and currently not all containers have to be accompanied with a health certificate. 2017 figures show that exports to the EU are finally picking up again in terms of value.

The increase in export value in 2014-2015 can be partly explained by high shrimp prices due to 'early mortality syndrome' (EMS) outbreaks in other countries of origin. The decrease after this period originates from a scarcity of raw materials in the local market with exporters only being able to operate at 40% to 50% capacity due to scarcity of raw materials and disease (ShrimpTails, March 2018).

While import values vary, the most important European Union markets continue to be the The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

Export product composition in 2017 (US$ 000)

Trade Map (2018), International Trade Centre,

Crustaceans are by far the most important export product from Bangladesh. Crustaceans include cultured and wild black tiger shrimp and fresh water prawn, other wild shrimp such as P. indicus and M. monoceros, cultured and wild crab species, and various wild lobster species. P. mondon shrimp

is the most important product within the category.

Exports of white fish decreased rapidly when the government decided to withdraw the 10% export tax for fish products. As domestic demand for fish is also strong in Bangladesh, it is increasingly difficult to compete for most exporters. Exports of fish might increase in the future if the development of high quality tilapia and pangasius production at farms and at factories will be successful.


Last updated: 01/10/2018

  • Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)

    Species Number of Farms Total Volume (MT)
    Shrimp 4 N/A

Trade and Investment regulations

Bangladesh scores 176 out of 190 on the World Bank its Doing Business in Index. Still, Bangladesh its most important export market is the EU and many European companies are doing business in the country. This section provides you with up to date need to know information about trading and investing in aquaculture, fisheries and processing in Bangladesh. Click the links below to learn more!

  1. GSP facilities and Free Trade Agreements
  2. Setting up a representative or branch office
  3. FDI regulations and setting up a subsidiary company
  4. Taxes and duties
  5. Custom procedures
  6. Arbitration law
  7. Cultural do’s and don’ts


Sector support programs

  • Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Linkages (SaFaL)

    SaFaL is an aquaculture project funded by the Dutch embassy in Bangladesh focussed at shrimp, fish, dairy and fruit farmers in South West Bangladesh. More than 30,000 fish and shrimp farmers are supported and connected to markets through improved supply chains.

  • Aquaculture Income and Nutrition (AIN)

    AIN is an USAID funded aquaculture project focussed at 20 districts in Khulna, Barisal and Dhaka. The aim is to improve productivity of shrimp and fish farmers through improved input, technology and policies.

  • National Agriculture Technology Plan (NATP) II

    The aquaculture component of this USD176mln World Bank loan to Bangladesh focuses on research and extension to smallholders in 54 districts of Bangladesh

    Department of Fisheries
  • SUPERSEAS - Supermarket supported area-based management and certification of aquaculture in southeast Asia

    SUPERSEAS aims to improve the design of area-based management for aquaculture production to reduce social and environmental risks associated with smallholder aquaculture, and to improve the terms under which smallholders are incorporated in retail-led value chains. The project is funded by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and implemented by the University of Wageningen (the Netherlands).

    Wageningen University and partner organizations