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Dhaka Tribune

Fishermen defy ban on Ilish netting in Bhola

Update : 08 Apr 2015, 06:41 PM

Defying the ban period set by the government, local influential fishermen are netting fishes, particularly the Ilish fry from the Meghna and Tetulia River in Bhola with an alleged involvement of scores of boatmen. 

Posing as coast guard members some boatmen have been reportedly involved in the illegal act. Abbas, Dulal, Ruhul Amin and Yusuf – four boatmen, known as “sources of the coastguard” were found realising bribe from the fishermen in the Ilisha Bishwa Road area, claimed many fishermen.

These “sources” allow the fishermen to carry out their illegal act in the area by carrying the coastguard officials through wrong routes during drives. These boatmen carry the coastguard members in trawlers to Lokkhipur and Mehediganj areas, the fishermen along the Meghna River told the Dhaka Tribune.

Abbas, Dulal, Ruhul Amin and Yusuf inform the fishermen when the coastguard officials set off for drives. After they are mislead to wrong directions the fishermen set off for netting, they said.

Bhola Fisheries Officer Pritish Kumar Mollick claimed that executives of coastguard south zone do not allow any kind of extortion to take place in the area and regular drives are conducted to check illegal netting of fishes.

In order to save the Ilish breed, government has imposed a ban from March 1 on netting of all kinds of fishes in 90km of area ranging from Ilisha to Monpura of the Meghna River and 100km area ranging from Bhola’s Bheduriya to Potuakhali’s Rustom char along the Tetulia River. The ban period extens until April 30.

Government has given special allotment to the coast guard and local administration for checking fishing during the ban period. However, coast guard officials have hardly achieved any success in this regard in Bhola.

Yesterday this correspondent found hundreds of fishing boats netting fished from the Meghna River in broad daylight. These fishes are also sold in the terminals at Chorar Matha and Bishwaroad areas amid a festive atmosphere.

Most of the coastguard drives take place in Lakkhipur and Ramgati areas along Motir Haat in Noakhali, therefore, fishermen carry on with their illegal act unabated during the ban period.

Milon, a fisherman based in Ilisha Bishwaroad area, said: “We do not violate the government order, however, most of the fishermen do.”

Seeking anonymity, a fish trader said they have to pay extortion at many points to carry out trade during the ban period. The “sources” collect the money and disburse among police and coastguards.

Syndicates of coastguards and police realise Tk10,000 and Tk5000 daily from the fish traders and many times they just take away fishes free of cost.

The fishermen demanded that everyone must be hold accountable if fishing has to be at a halt. However, in reality, some groups are carrying out the illegal act without facing any kind of resistance while some are being punished, they claimed. 

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