The ongoing ban on Ilish netting has brought immense suffering to the fishing communities in Khulna's Koyra upazila. As Koyra is not designated as an Ilish breeding zone, the fishermen there have also been left out of the government's compensation package during the ban.
On the other hand, forest guards are not letting fishermen fish inside the adjacent Sundarbans areas despite endorsing fishing permits for the first quarter of October.
The 22-day ban on catching, carrying, storing and marketing of Ilish has been in effect since October 1.
The ban covers 7,000 sq km of Ilish breeding grounds in seven coastal districts. The notification about the ban was issued by the Fisheries and Livestock Ministry on September 28.
However, officials of the Forest Department claimed that the government notification on Ilsih netting ban reached them only on October 2.
Koyra Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Shimul Kumar Shaha said there are about 10,000 fishermen in the upazila. "This area is not enlisted as a Ilish area. The fishing folks here are not getting any type of compensation, while at the same time, they are not being able to catch fish in the nearby rivers," he said.
Records kept at Sundarbans Nalian Range Office and Satkhira Range Office showed that some 5,000 fishermen had recently acquired fishing permits from different forest stations.
Amirul Islam, a fisherman, told the Dhaka Tribune that he had bought the permit from Kashiabad Forest Station on September 30, and had reached Jorhshing area of the forest on October 1. "But the coast guards forbade me to catch fish. They tried to seize my net and boat, but I was able to save those after repeated requests,” he said.
Harinath Mondol, another fisherman, said: "On one hand, the Forest Department has endorsed the permit while on the other hand, the administration is conducting drives to prevent fishing. If the fishermen from other areas can get the compensation, why not us?"
Sundarbans West Zone Forest Officer Md Bashirul-al-Mamun said all the permits for the first quarter of October were given before the issuance of the government notification on Ilish netting ban.
"The fishermen are facing restrictions after entering the forest with their fishing gears. Officials concerned have been ordered to explain the matter and advise the fishermen to go to the coastal areas. The ban is only on Ilish catching, it does not include all types of fishing,” added the forest official.