According to government data, production of the silver fish stood at 517,000 tons in 2017-18, up from 279,189 tons in 2006-07
Ilish production in Bangladesh has doubled in a decade, thanks to the government's efforts, including its ban on catching brood fish, and fries.
According to government data, production of the silver fish stood at 517,000 tons in 2017-18, up from 279,189 tons in 2006-07. In 2014-2015 the production was 387,211 tons.
The ban was first imposed in 2011, the officials of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock said at a national seminar on "65 days fishing ban in the sea, and 22 days ban on hilsha fishing to protect reproductive Hilsa programme – 2019" at capital's CIRDAP auditorium on Wednesday.
The seminar was organised by Sustainable Coastal and Main Fisheries Project of the Department of Fisheries.
Masud Ara Momi, assistant director of the fisheries department, said: “In 2011–2014, the government imposed a ban on catching Ilish during the breeding season for 11 days. In 2015, the period was increased to 16 days and in 2017 to 22 days. We have found significant increase in the production as well as in size and weight.
"The average size of the netted fish also increased from 510 grams (2014) to 880 grams (2016).”
This year, the ban on fishing will start from October 9 and will continue till October 30, she said.
While sharing the impact of the ban, Director (Marine) Dr Md Abul Hasanat of the fisheries department gave examples of neighboring countries – India (45-61 days), Myanmar (92 days), Thailand (91 days), Srilanka (February, September, October), and China (78-124 days).
“We have done a research on the impact of the 65-day ban where we found that 49% of the people related with the industry said it's helpful, 14% said time period for ban needs to be increased while 3% said the time span needs to decrease, with 6% for delaying the ban period,” said Dr Md Abul Hasanat.
He also emphasized on the challenges of implementing the ban on fishing and recommendations, saying: “We lack manpower and logistics, budget; there is a tendency of illegal entry of foreign vessels, lack of patrol vessels as well as controlling the motorized and non-motorized fishing boats in the 710 kilometers of the country's coastal area.”
Citing the study, a number of recommendations was advised. They are:
● increase of manpower,
● opening up a new economic code to implement banned seasons, and allocating a sufficient budget,
● adopting new programs to implement banned seasons as well as materializing them, increasing food assistance and adopting alternative economic activities for fishermen during the period,
● providing ID cards to all the fishermen working in the vessels at sea,
● Ensuring "Safety of Life at Sea" training for all officials, sailors and fishermen of sea vessels,
● passing the proposed Marine Fisheries Bill and the National Marine Fisheries Guideline,
● updating the data of motorised and non-motorised fishing vessels,
● registration of all fishing vessels, bringing all fishing vessels under the (Vessel Monitoring System) VMS and the (Automatic Identification System) AIS systems,
● formulating the Bay of Bengal Hilsa Commission comprising of the members from the countries concerned,
● capacity building of the Marine Fisheries and Coastal Fisheries departments to implement the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS),
● taking effective measures to control sea pollution, and demarcating a 40-meter geofence or control line in the Bay.
The speakers at the seminar, suggested that the government coordinates with neighboring countries India and Myanmar in regard to the ban on fishing at the Bay of Bengal.
“Fishermen are at risk, as well as the fishing industry, because of the ban. However, this ban needs to be imposed on the fishing boats of Myanmar and India in our territory,” said Md Tajuddin Taju, general secretary of the Marine White Fish Trawler Owners Association.
Representative of Bangladesh Coast Guard Commander Masud said that they have recently sat with the high officials of India including the director general of the Coast Guard, where they have assured the Bangladeshi part that they will take initiatives so that their fishermen do not cross the maritime border.
The national seminar was presided over by State Minister for the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock Md Ashraf Ali Khan Khasru.
In his speech, he said: “Fishermen may not be aware about the ban, but the trawler owners know about it. So, they have to follow the government directives as well as think about the safety of the fishermen.”
Secretary of Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock Md Raisul Alam Mondol, Fisheries Research Institute Director General Yahya Mahmud, Secretary (Maritime Affairs Unit) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Khurshed Alam, leaders from different fishing vessels, and associations, among others, were present at the seminar.