Regulatory measures

Published: 23 July 2020
Last edited: 05 August 2020

 The government of Bangladesh manages its artisanal hilsa fishery through a number of different regulatory measures, most of which focus on protecting juvenile fish:

  1. Hilsa fishing is banned throughout the country during the perceived peak breeding season (22 days in October), with the aim of minimising disturbance to spawning and recruitment. Enforcement is focused on areas known to be important spawning grounds.
  2. There is an eight-month nationwide ban on capture, possession, selling and transport of juvenile hilsa (fry less than 25 cm long) between November and July to maximise recruitment of juveniles to the fishery. Enforcement is focused on 7,000 square kilometres of coastal, estuarine and riverine areas. 
  3. There is a year-round ban on use and production of monofilament gillnets, again for the protection of juvenile hilsa. 
  4. Six hilsa sanctuaries have been designated to protect major hilsa nursery grounds. These sanctuaries range from 20-100 km sections of river. All fishing is banned for at least 2 months in these areas during their peak periods of juvenile presence.

A ‘mobile court’ team operates at the subdistrict level to enforce these regulations, with support from the police and other agencies.


Management planning
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution

Enabling factors

Effective monitoring and enforcement of fisheries regulations relies on human, physical and financial resources, but these are limited in Bangladesh. In lieu of proper monitoring and enforcement, the provision of compensation enables and incentivises fishers to comply with these regulations by offsetting or reducing the socioeconomic cost.

Lessons learned

The regulations must be grounded in robust ecological and biological research if they are to have a positive impact on hilsa stocks. The geographical placement and seasonal timings of regulations designed to protect hilsa have been adapted over time in response to new scientific evidence.