Bangladesh is blessed with the world’s richest and most diverse inland aquatic ecosystem having a wide variety of living aquatic resources such as ponds, canals, ox-bow lakes, haors, baors, river, floodplain, beel etc. But over the years, due to natural and man-made causes, aquatic bio-diversity especially species diversity of fish and other aquatic organism in open water have been declining sharply. It is very essential to undertake necessary attempts on conserving and enhancing aquatic biodiversity. Hence establishment of sanctuary has become obligatory to protect and conserve fish species from extinction and increase fish diversity in the country. So the importance of fish sanctuary is infinite.

The general importance of fish sanctuary is outlined below –

  • Increase fish production
  • Protect the fish from genetic pollution
  • Provide breeding and feeding ground
  • Enhanced and a preserving aquatic biodiversity
  • It helps protect breeding and nursery ground and helps produce brood fish and other fish and enhance fish diversity
  • Restoration as well as conservation of habitat may be possible by establishing aquatic sanctuary
  • Increasing the abundance of threatened fish species
  • Full fill the demand of fish seed
  • Improved the livelihood conditions
  • Protect many other aquatic fauna and flora etc.

Establishment and Management of Fish Sanctuary
Fish sanctuary is a risk free shelter of fishes. Size/Area of fish sanctuary is positively related with the size of target fish sp. So we should have established fish sanctuary in the river for river fishes and in the Beel for Beel fishes. Place size of fish sanctuary should be selected by considering opinion of local fishermen and their livelihood. Fish sanctuary is established in such a place where fishing can be prohibited or restricted seasonally or round the year.

In the management system of sanctuary, site selection is very important.
Following factors are considered for site selection-

  • It should be the deepest part of the river or beel
  • Relatively low water current is found in that place
  • The place should have less probability of siltation
  • The transportation route of river should not be hampered
  • The place should be safe from human interference.

Generally 8-10% areas in dry season of a water body can be selected for fish sanctuary. But positive results are also achieved in flood plain or beel areas even establishing sanctuary in ditches (400-500 square mile area). After selecting a site for sanctuary sufficient bamboo and tree branches are provided in to selected area. The protect area where there is chance of siltation concert tetrapod may be used instead of tree branches. Selected area should be marked with distinguishable symbols (eg. red flag, tree, bazaar etc.) As a result it will raise an opportunity to increase fish diversity in concerned water body. In last sixties and later eighties decade several sanctuaries have been established though DoF. But due to lack of proper management, these sanctuaries were closed with the end of the projects. The main causes of closing of the project were no active participation of the local fishermen. In 1997 again fish sanctuaries have been established in beel Ashura under CBF-1 project of DoF. Later fish sanctuary has been established in different water bodies of the country under 4th fisheries project, CBF-2 and MACH project. Till 2005-2006, 377 sanctuaries have been established throughout the country involving fishermen community.

In the last few years, many fish sanctuaries have been established with different shape and size using different Katha materials there has been no set rule as to the size and design of the sanctuaries. The performance of different Katha materials and their relative size are not known. It has been found that many very small size sanctuaries have been established which are not sufficient in protecting fish on the other hand, management and maintaining of very big sanctuaries is difficult in terms of financial involvement and acceptance by local community.

There are many techniques are used to protect and maintain sanctuaries so that expected benefit can be obtained. Protection needs to be ensured so that fish and other biota taking shelter are not poached or harvested by anybody. The protective measures start along with the planning process. Some of the measures found useful are discussed below-

Work through or with CBOs:
This is very important. So far it is found that without a committed and organized local community it may be impossible to establish and maintain a sanctuary. So before establishing a sanctuary it is to be ensured that there is a CBO who are committed to protect the sanctuary.

Awareness among wider community:
Through different media awareness must be created among the wider community so that the sanctuaries are protected. Proper publicity is important. Sanctuary is to be part of a larger management plan for sustainable use of the resource / fishery that has been made by the community and is widely accepted.

Identification, demarcation and declaration:
Location of the sanctuary selected along with the CBO and local people with also expert advice. Formal declaration of sanctuary by relevant authority / organization managing water body, with proper demarcation with bamboo, red flags, signboard, demarcation pillars etc. should be done so that people can easily understand that this is a protected area and should not enter.

Katha and other sanctuaries:
Bamboo, tree branches and other structure in the sanctuary will give further protection for fish from poaching or any other disturbances. Katha can be given covering the whole sanctuary area or in small clusters within the area. Water hyacinth or other aquatic vegetation cal also be used to create a suitable refuge for fish. Algae grow on the tree branches or on bamboos, and that is an extra attraction for fish to congregate. A part of the bamboos and tree branches should be firmly shoved into bottom mud so they are not easily moved. But note that brushpiles in rivers may increase siltation of the deeper pools that are being protected.

Fish protection device:
In few places a series of bamboo cage like structures are being used to protect fish from poaching as well as to protect small fish from predation by bigger fish. In some places RCC tetra-pods and pipes are used for an extra and long-term protection.

Finding a shelter, protection and some food, fish congregate in a sanctuary especially in dry season. This is a place of attraction for poachers. Within a small area fish become more vulnerable to poaching. Considering this situation, besides many other protective measures guarding for few months (4/5 months during dry season) should be considered.

To observe the impact of the fish sanctuary, survey on different factors mainly on change in fish diversity and production, size classes and cohorts of each species and socio-economic status of fishermen can be done.
By maintaining this technique an well developed fish sanctuary can be made for conserving the valuable diversity of fishes and other fisheries organism.


  • Ahmed, K.K.U., Ahmed, S.U., Hasan, K.R. and Mustafa, M.G. 2007. Option for formulating community based fish sanctuary and its management in beel ecosystem in Brahmanbaria. Bangladesh J. Fish. 30: pp. 1-10.
  • DoF. 2005. Fish Fortnight Compendium. Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock. Government of the People Republic of Bangladesh. pp. 81-85.
  • World Fish Center. 2005. Training on Open Water Fisheries Management. pp. 51-54.
  • BFRI, 2010. Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute. Web:

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Importance, Establishment and Management of Fish Sanctuary

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Ahmed Jaman

Student, Department of Fisheries, University of Rajshahi, Rajshahi-6205, Bangladesh. More...

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