Anglers and fisheries officials have reported a decrease in the number of fish caught from Barishal’s rivers, though for different reasons according to each party. As a result, supply of local fish to major fish markets has come down noticeably.
On one hand, local anglers said the situation arose as fishing in the river has been banned for the last 15 days, while fisheries officials said fish supply has decreased naturally, as is normal for this season.
In addition, officials said anglers are catching less fish than before, as they are using illegal nets, which depletes fish supply and brings fewer catches.
Following their claims, this correspondent, while visiting Port Road Wholesale Fish Market — one of the biggest wholesale fish markets of the south region — and other markets and saw very little activity.
Traders and labourers were mostly sitting idle, as there is not much work. Some shops were found closed while some store fronts were being used to repair fishing pots.
Soleiman Fakir, a worker at the market, told this correspondent that since a lot less fish is coming in every day, their income has decreased by at least six to eight times.
Nirab Hossain Tutul, president of Barishal Port Road Motsho Arotdar Samity, said compared to an inflow of 800-2,000 maunds of fish per day, the number has now come down to 100-150 maunds. Hilsa rarely comes, with less than 50 maunds arriving on Thursday.
“Some anglers are afraid of going out to the rivers after thousands of nets were burned in a massive operation to protect jatka, which ran from January 10-16 and January 25 to Feb 1. This is another reason why netting has decreased,” Nirab said.
According to the Fisheries Department, the special operation ran on six districts of Barishal division. In total, 761 operation were conducted by 294 mobile courts.
Bimal Das, district fisheries officer (hilsa), said as a result of the operation, anglers are not able to use illegal nets, which may give off the impression that less fish is being caught, but he assured that this is normal.
“It is normal for fish supply to be low at this point of the year. It will increase from April. There is nothing to worry about,” said Anisur Rahman Talukder, deputy director of Divisional Fisheries Office of Barishal.
“The operations seized 1,243 ‘Behundi nets’, 68.09 lakh metres of current nets, 22.707 metric tonnes of jatka, and one tonne of other fishes. In the meantime, 131 cases were filed and 92 anglers were jailed for illegal netting,” he added.