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Dhaka Tribune

Indiscriminate catching reducing snail count

Update : 24 Nov 2014, 08:27 PM

Uncontrolled and large scale catching of snails is posing a threat to the species in Gopalganj. About five thousand people of the five upazilas of the district are earning their livelihood by catching snails.

Snails caught in the district have a great demand among the shrimp hatcheries in Khulna, Bagerhat, Satkhira, and Barisal.

According to the Fisheries and Livestock Department, shrimp farming has picked up over the last few years in the south-western region of the country. And snail-meat helps rapid growth of shrimps. That is why demand of snails has also gone up.

Snails are usually found in plenty in freshwater bodies. People from low income group collect snails all day long from Gopalganj sadar, Kotalipara, Tungipara, Maksudpur and Kashiani areas of the district. Then they are sold for Tk250-300 per maund at major markets of Kotalipara. Snails from this district are then distributed to Khulna and Bagerhat where they are sold for a higher price. 

Shantiram Roy, a snail collector from Kandi village of Kotalipara said numbers of snails were reducing day by day. Nowadays a whole day collection of snails amounts to two-hour labour previously.

Businessman Kamal Hossain said snails available nowadays did not even meet one percent of the total demand. Hence they are having to collect snails from farther regions with increased transportation expense.

Underscoring the ecological importance of snails, Tungipara agriculture officer Horolal Madhu said snails help increase the fertility of arable land by eating up the dangerous elements. Besides, during the dry season decomposing snails add to the fertility. But with the snail number fast reducing farmers are having to spend more in producing crops by using various chemical fertilizers.

“Snails are cheaper than fish feed in the market. Besides, they are also a better food for shrimps. Hence there is a huge demand. But such indiscriminate catching is also hurting the species to the extent that they are not being able to reproduce and multiply,” said Assistant Director of Faridpur Fisheries Development Project Narayan Chandra Das.

He suggested private initiative to commercial farming of snails. “Besides, the government ban on collecting snails must be implemented strictly and punishment for offenders should be clearly laid out,” he added. 

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