Scorching heat, prolonged drought punishing shrimp farmers in Bangladesh

A shrimp farm in Satkhira, Bangladesh.

Unusually low rainfall and hotter-than-average temperatures are leading to a spike in mortalities of shrimp being farmed in Bangladesh.

Shrimp farmers in Satkhira, Bangladesh, have seen at least 40 percent losses of their current crop, according to Seafood Network Bangladesh. Satkhira District Shrimp Growers Association General Secretary Abul Kalam Babla said the farmers he represents – collectively farming 68,000 hectares in 60,000 ponds – have suffered mortalities above 40 percent of the current crop, a loss of BDT 2 billion (USD 18.5 million, EUR 17.1 million) in the past month and a half. Babla said low-quality post-larvae and stagnant water have resulted in higher mortalities from disease.

Satkhira district is known for its low-lying land used for rice-growing and shrimp and crab aquaculture. But it is struggling with changed rainfall patterns and warmer temperatures due to climate change, according to Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services Hydrologist Ahammed Zulfiqar Rahaman. Besides drought, climate change is also creating more powerful cyclones, like the 2019 storm that caused widespread destruction across the region. The removal of mangroves to make room for additional shrimp farms has exacerbated cyclone damage, Rahaman told Reuters.

Bangladesh’s 2022 shrimp exports totaled USD 407 million (EUR 378 million), but its shrimp sector’s growth has flattened in the past decade. The country adopted a climate resiliency policy in 2022 that contains an assessment of the risks climate change impacts pose to shrimp cultivation, which include sea-level rise that will change water salinity levels across a wide swathe of the country where shrimp aquaculture is common.

Bangladesh has received some foreign investment to modernize its aquaculture sector, but local farmers say it has not been enough.

Sohel Shaikh, a shrimp farmer in Mongla, Bangladesh, has suffered heavy losses from cyclones and disease issues.

"I hoped to receive support from the government to be back on my feet, but have not received any help," Shaikh told Reuters.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict, rising inflation rates in global markets, and current low prices being offered for shrimp are also impacting Bangladesh’s shrimp exports.

Photo courtesy of Arlo Magicman/Shutterstock


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