More than 80 percent of the animal protein in the Bangladeshi diet comes from fish. Fish accounted for 6 percent of GDP in FY 1970, nearly 50 percent more than modern industrial manufacturing at that time. Most commercial fishermen are low-caste Hindus who eke out the barest subsistence working under primitive and dangerous conditions. They bring a high degree of skill and ingenuity to their occupation; a few of the most enterprising ones are aided by domesticated otters, which behave like shepherds, swimming underwater, driving fish toward the fisherman's net (and being rewarded themselves with a share of the catch). Fish for local consumption generally are freshwater varieties.
As of the end of 1987, prevailing methods for culturing shrimp in Bangladesh were still relatively unsophisticated, and average yields per hectare were low. In the late 1980s, almost all inland shrimping was done by capture rather than by intensive aquaculture. Farmers relied primarily on wild postlarval and juvenile shrimp as their sources of stock, acquired either by trapping in ponds during tidal water exchange or by gathering from local estuaries and stocking directly in the ponds. Despite the seemingly low level of technology applied to shrimp aquaculture, it became an increasingly important part of the frozen seafood industry in the mid-1980s.
The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank financed projects to develop shrimp aquaculture in the 1980s. Much of the emphasis was on construction of modern hatcheries. Private investors were also initiating similar projects to increase capacity and to introduce modern technology that would increase average yields.
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