Poor catches of ilish frustrating Bhola fishermen

Several fishermen said their families are passing hard days as the catches are not enough even to recover the cost of rivers trips on trawlers

Fishermen and traders of Bhola’s Ilisha Ferry Ghat are frustrated as the ongoing ilish season sees poor netting of the popular fish in Meghna and Tetulia Rivers under the district.

Several fishermen at the famous fish landing station said their families are going through hard days as the catches are not enough even to recover the cost of the river trips on trawlers.

During a recent visit to Ilisha Ghat, this correspondent saw a small number of fishermen and traders lined up in front of the Wholesale Fish Warehouse at the ghat. Fishermen are taking their catch with baskets to the warehouses from rivers, but the numbers of catches are very low.

And the Ilish that are being found weigh around 1 kg to 1.15 kgs. Fishermen and traders said the ghat was flooded with ilish during this time last year.

Siraj Uddin, who came to sell ilish at the ghat, said: “I along with 6 fishermen went to Meghna River on a trawler three days ago. After fishing for two days, we have sold fish worth only TK22,000.”

“We have spent Tk5,000 for trawler’s oil and food. We will not get more than Tk500/400 each after giving the share of trawler owner and money lender. But last year we got TK 2000/3000 each after giving the shares of the trawler owner and money lender.” he added.

Not only Siraj, many other fishermen at the ghat have been passing their days in frustration due to poor catches. Fishermen said they will fail to repay their loan taken from moneylenders because of poor netting.

Meanwhile, farmers alleged that many influential people have set nets including mosquito nets in the rivers, thereby obstructing ilish from swimming into rivers from the sea. For this reason, fishermen are not getting the expected fish from Megha and Tetulia Rivers.

Huge number of ilish are being seen at the mouth of the sea, they added.

Wholesaler Imon at the ghat said: “Last year during this period, around 400 to 500 maunds of ilish were transported to different places of the country from here every day. But we are currently sending only 80/90 maunds.”

Moni Holader of Kolatoli’s Fishery Ghat, said: “The numbers of ilish in my warehouse are less due to the poor catching in Meghna River.”

However, the district’s Fisheries Department has targeted to catch 65,000 tons hilsa this season, said Senior Fisheries Officer Asaduzzaman.

He said: “Due to the climate change, the number of Ilish has decreased in the rivers.” But he hoped fishermen will get expected ilish from Meghna and Tetulia Rivers at the end of Bangla Month Ashwin.

Regarding the matter, Bhola Fisheries Officer SM Azharul Ilsam, said:” Peak season for catching hilsa has started. Huge numbers of ilish are being netted in seas. Ilish will swim to Meghna and Tetulia Rivers very soon and fishermen will be able catch it abundantly.

When asked why the number of ilish is low in Meghna and Tetulia Rivers during this peak season, SM Azharul Islam did not reply.

But he said: “Last year, the production target of ilish was 160,000 in Bhola and 170,000 tons of ilish were netted.”

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