Hossain, MS; Sarker, S; Sharifuzzaman, SM; Chowdhury, SR (2020). Primary productivity connects hilsa fishery in the Bay of Bengal. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 10(1), 5659.

Tropical hilsa shad (Tenualosa ilisha) contributes significantly to the society and economy of Bangladesh, India and Myanmar, but little is known about their habitats across the life cycle and their relationship with environmental drivers. This study describes spatial and temporal variability of productivity in the Bay of Bengal (BoB) relating to hilsa fishery. Decadal data on net primary productivity, nutrients (i.e. nitrate, phosphate and silicate) and zooplankton were collected from Aqua MODIS, world ocean database and COPEPOD respectively with spatial resolution 1 degrees x1 degrees. Moreover, monthly abundance of phytoplankton, hilsa catch and long-term catch dynamics were analyzed to determine the associations between variables. The present study was extended over 3.568 million km(2) area, of which 0.131-0.213 million km(2) area characterized as the most productive with net primary production of >2,000mgC/m(2)/day, 0.373-0.861 million km(2) area as moderately productive with 500-2,000mgC/m(2)/day, and 2.517-3.040 million km(2) area as the least productive with <500mgC/m(2)/day which were consistent with field verification data. In case of nutrients, the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) delta was rich in nitrate and phosphate than that of the Ayeyarwady delta, while silicate concentration persisted high all over the northern BoB including the deltas. A peak abundance of phytoplankton was observed in GBM delta during the months of August-November, when similar to 80% of total hilsa are harvested in Bangladesh annually. Variations in seasonal productivity linked with nutrients and phytoplankton abundance are important factors for predicting hilsa habitat and their migration patterns in the deltaic regions and shelf waters of BoB. These results can be useful in forecasting potential responses of the hilsa in BoB ecosystem to changing global ocean productivity.