Shell Crafts has become a potential industrial sector in Bangladesh as cox's bazar costal zone is very congenial for breading of the oyster. It is an invertebrate and about one million species of oyster, mostly grown in saline water are available in our globe. Of which about 300 species live in the 69,900 square kilometre maritime zone of Bangladesh.
Cox's Bazar and its adjoining coastal area are the sanctuary of these oysters. Economic potential of these resources is yet to be explored. Seashells being valuable goods bear immense economic importance. Zoologically termed as Perna Viridis and Crossotrea these species are generally known as Mollusc. It is possible to earn a huge amount of foreign exchange by breeding these two species of oyster in the Cox's Bazar coastal belt.
Oyster of different groups is being consumed as food from the ancient age. In Bangladesh, all the ethnic minorities and tribes living in the chittagons hill tracts and the rakhain tribe like to eat the meat of oyster or mollusc. This meat is also used as fish and poultry feed. Shell lime is consumed by most of the people of Bangladesh with betel-leaf. Shell powder is also used in poultry industry as an alternative to calcium substitute.
Pearl is a very precious element, grown inside oysters through a process of internal secretion. It turns into a hard, semi-smooth and mostly bright ball of different colours inside the shell over a certain period. Maheshkhali Island was very famous for precious pearls, as there exists a special variety of pearl growing oyster there. So breeding of such Mollusc is a must to get valuable pearls.
In Bangladesh, besides pearl, shell itself is widely used to make ornaments. All the variety stores of Chittagong region especially costal towns of Cox's Bazar, Kutubdia and Maheshkhali sell hand made shell ornaments of attractive designs.
Calcium oxide, extracted from sea-shells, is used in iron casting and foundry industries. It helps to bend iron easily. Table salt, produced commercially is also fortified with calcium oxide. Most of the leading and modern salt plants use this shell-grown element to enrich their product. Moreover, ingredients of oyster are used in sugar, paper and pharmaceutical industries in many ways. Moreover, living oysters play an important role in keeping the environment free from pollution as they reduce the alkali level in water and earth and the toxicity of water. It also controls the plankton broom and purifies the drifting oily substances of water.
Many countries of the world such as China, Japan, Korea, France and Denmark have achieved economic growth through the systematic breeding of oysters of Mytilus edulis, Perna Viridis and Crassostrea Species. Like these countries, Bangladesh also can attain economy prosperity by cultivation and breeding of such valuable species of oyster in the coastal zones of Cox's Bazar and the Sundarbans area of country. [Rafiqul Ahsan]