Sabbir Alam Babu, Bhola
Bhola is an island district surrounded by the Bay of Bengal on the south and the Meghna, Tentulia and Ilisha rivers on three sides.
In this district more than 2 lakh fishermen make a living by catching hilsa fish. Jaistha and Ashar months are the season full of Hilsa. But this year, after the end of Jaistha, even though half of Ashar has left, there is no hilsa in the river. After spending thousands of rupees, the fishermen have to go to the river and return disappointed with two or four hilsas.
This is not raising their costs. So many fishermen have stopped going to the river. They are in dire straits with their families as there are no fish in the river.
However, according to the Bhola District Fisheries Department, one lakh 85 thousand 390 metric tons of hilsa was produced in Bhola in the last financial year. The Fisheries Department expects to produce one lakh 72 thousand metric tons of hilsa this year.
It has been seen that various fish ghats of Bhola have been visited. Although it is a season full of hilsa, many fishermen are spending idle time repairing boats and nets in the ghats. Some fishermen go to the river but return empty handed.
Even if two or four hilsas match, the cost is not rising. Many fishermen are now giving up their profession after facing losses for a long time. There is no such arrangement in the warehouses of the ghats. They are sitting and spending lazy time. Farid Majhi, a fisherman at Tulatuli Fish Ghat, said no hilsa was seen in the Meghna-Tentulia river in Bhola after the two-month ban was lifted on April 30.
Spending one to one and a half thousand rupees every day, he has to return empty-handed with five boatmen. By doing this, we have to pay losses every day. And the burden of debt is getting heavier day by day. In this situation, he is worried about the expenses of the family as well as about one lakh rupees.
Md. Fisherman of the same area. Amjad Hossain said he has been making a living by fishing in the river for 25 years. Earlier, silver hilsa was caught in large numbers in the river in the month of Jaistha-Ashar. But no fish has been seen in the river this season for the last two to three years. He landed a medium-sized trawler on the river at a cost of Tk 200,000.
In this, five boatmen went to the river with 4-5 thousand taka and got 5 jatka hilsas. He got one thousand five hundred rupees by selling it.
Shahjahan Majhi, 60, of the Bhola Khal fish ghat area, said he has been fishing in the Meghna River for 30 years. At one time he had a big fish trawler. At present, they are selling trawlers in the face of losses and are fishing as partners in other trawlers.
Regarding the low availability of fish in the river, he said the government has launched a river campaign to increase fish production. The expedition was carried out by almost all the fishermen. But even after that, there are no fish in the river in the full season. The main reason for this is illegal nets in the river. Throughout the year after the operation, unscrupulous fishermen have been destroying small fish fry in the river with illegal pole nets, char nets, pie nets, and behundi nets.
Local influential quarters used these fishermen to kill small fish from the river with this illegal net. Even ordinary fishermen cannot say anything for fear of them. And although the administration occasionally raids, most of the time they are out of reach. In order to increase fish production, all these illegal nets have to be removed from the river and strict measures have to be taken against unscrupulous fishermen.
Tulatuli fish warehouse storekeeper said. Yunus said that there are 12 warehouses in this ghat. During the busy season, fish worth Tk 15 to 20 lakh was sent from this ghat to different places including Dhaka every day. But for the last 15-20 days, it has been difficult to send fish worth Tk. Many fishermen are not going to the river now as there are no fish in the river. Because you have to go to the river and return empty handed.
Bhola District Fisheries Officer Mollah Emdadullah said the desired hilsa would be found in the river within a month or two next month. They will also be able to make up for the loss suffered by the fishermen for so long. He also thinks that the production of hilsa will increase more this year than last year.