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Country Overview

Bangladesh situated in the North eastern part of South Asia. It lies in the active delta of three major rivers Brahmaputra, Ganges, and Meghna, and their numerous tributaries flowing to the Bay of Bengal. The country covers an area of 1, 47,570 km2 and is bounded by India from the West, North and East, while Myanmar lies on the South Eastern edge. Bangladesh’s coastline has 710 kms on the Bay of Bengal, stretching from the South-West corner of the Sundarban Mangrove Forest (SMF) to Cheradip on St. Martin’s Island in the South-East.

Bangladesh has the largest single mangrove ecosystem in the world, the Sundarbans, which stretches across the country’s south western border into India (Ifkethar, 2009). Sundarban is the largest mangrove wetland in the world. It covers an area of about 1 million ha, of which 60% is located in Bangladesh and the remaining western portion, comprising 40%, lies in India (Rahman and Assaduzzaman, 2010). It has been actively managed for more than a century. This area is one of the biologically most productive regions in the world, and houses the most significant nursery grounds for many commercially important marine species in the Bay of Bengal (Haque, 2003).

The fisheries sector is extremely important for supporting livelihoods in Bangladesh contributing about 5% of total GDP. Approximately 1.2 million people directly derive their livelihoods from fishing and fishery-based activities, and according to estimates, fish products account for 63% of total protein intake (Mome, 2007).

MPAs in Bangladesh

The majority of the areas under conservation management in Bangladesh are actually protecting its important mangrove ecosystems, although some fishing grounds are also protected. Protected Area designations in Bangladesh include Wildlife Sanctuaries, National Parks and Game Reserves (MoEF, 2013). Their definitions are included in the Bangladesh Wildlife (Preservation) Order, 1973 (henceforth Wildlife Order). Another type of protected area in Bangladesh is the ‘ecologically critical area’ (ECA), which is declared under the Environmental Conservation Act of 1995. ECAs are typically declared in areas that have suffered from intense ecological destruction. At present, WorldFish has compiled 14 identified marine protected areas in Bangladesh. The map above shows the distribution of the MPAs in Bangladesh and a detailed list of MPAs is compiled in MPA database (BOBLME, 2011; IRG 2012).

Wildlife Sanctuaries are defined as areas closed to hunting, shooting or trapping of wild animals and are declared by the government as undisturbed breeding grounds, primarily for the protection of wildlife inclusive of all natural resources such as vegetation soil and water. National Parks are comparatively large areas of outstanding scenic and natural beauty. Their primary objective is the protection and preservation of scenery, flora and fauna in the natural state, to which access for public recreation and education and research may be allowed. Game Reserves area is gazetted by the government for the protection of wildlife, increasing the populations of important species. The capture of any wild animals in Game Reserves is unlawful.

Bangladesh is also creating ‘hilsa closed seasons’ in especially productive fishing grounds; e.g. the ‘Middle Ground’ and ‘South Patch’ areas (Hussain 2009; Hossain 2004).

The primary government agency concerned with the declaration and management of marine protected areas is the Department of Environment (DoE), which operates under the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF, 2013). The DoE has the authority to declare ecologically critical areas (ECAs) if it deems an area under threat. The Forest Department is responsible for declaring national parks and sanctuaries, while the Fisheries Department is responsible for identification and declaration of MPAs in other forms (such as hilsa closed seasons and fisheries sanctuaries).

Other agencies with a peripheral role in the management of marine protected areas (especially hilsa closed seasons) include:

  • The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock.
  • The Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (runs the Marine Fisheries and Technology Station in Cox’s Bazaar).
  • Academic Institutions such as the Institute of Marine and Fisheries Science at Chittagong University.
  • The Bangladesh Navy and Coast Guard, which are charged with enforcing regulations governing marine resources more generally.
  • Fisheries and Marine Resource Technology School of Khulna Science and Technology University, which is involved in academic research.
  • Bangladesh Fishery Development Corporation (BFDC) is also important in marine fisheries improvement.

  • BOBLME. 2011. Status of Marine Protected Areas and Fish Refugia in the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem. BOBLME – 2011 – Ecology – 10
  • Haque M. E. 2003. How fishers’ endeavors and information help in managing the fisheries resources of the Sundarban mangrove forest of Bangladesh (433-438). In: Putting Fishers’ Knowledge to Work: Proceedings From The Conference, August 27-30, 2001. Nigel H, C. Brignall and L. Wood (Eds). The Fisheries Center. University of British Columbia. Vancouver.
  • Hossain, Md. M. Maruf. 2004. National report of Bangladesh on sustainable management of the Bay of Bengal large marine ecosystem. Prepared under the BOBLME Programme of the UN FAO. 121 pages
  • Hussain, M.G. et al. 2009. Marine and coastal fisheries resources, activities and development in Bangladesh: Relevance to BOBLME Project. Presentation for BOBLME Program/FAO. 23 Slides.
  • IRG. 2012. Integrated protected area co-management (IPAC) state of Bangladesh’s forest protected areas’2010. Report for review by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID. 90pp.
  • Ifkethar, M.S. 2006. Conservation and management of the Bangladesh coastal ecosystem: Overview of an integrated approach. Natural Resources Forum. (30) pp. 230 – 237
  • M R Rahman and M Asaduzzaman. 2010. Ecology of Sundarban, Bangladesh. J. Sci. Foundation, 8(1&2): 35-47
  • Mome, Masud Ara. 2007. The potential of the artisanal hilsa fishery in Bangladesh: an economically efficient fisheries policy. Final project for The United Nations University Fisheries Training Programme. Reykjavic, Iceland. 57pp
  • Ministry of Environment and Forestry Government of Bangladesh (MoEF). 2013. (
  • World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). 2013.
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