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Overfishing in Sunamganj's canals depleting local fish stock

  • Published at 05:54 pm March 28th, 2019
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Locals claim that the lease-holders have been using machines to lower water levels and catch more fish in Sunamganj Dhaka Tribune

Overfishing in the Sunamganj haor area is endangering various fish species

Overfishing in Sunamganj “haor,” wetland areas, is endangering various native fish species.

Locals claim negligence by upazila fisheries department officials is leading to increased fishing in the area.

In the last two months, lease-holders have been using machines to lower water levels and catch more fish.

However, the lease-holders claim that the recent drought is causing farmers to collect water from the "jalmohal," canals, and that is the sole reason for lower water levels in the jalmohal.

Rahul Amin, a fisherman from Hatamara village of Fenarbak union of Jamalganj upazila said: “During the year, jalmohal are being dried in the district, by the lease-holders, so that they can catch numerous species of local fish that live in  fresh water sources. 

"As a result, the production of local fish species in haor is reducing.”

Dhiru Biswas of Doulatpur village said that during the summer, the water crisis in the entire haor area is caused by the farmers drying jalmohal to irrigate their land.

Farmers are using the natural water resources to irrigate their land and fish for the lease-holders.

Reju Mia of Dharmapasha upazila said: “Private jalmohal are also being used for excessive fishing.

"In summer from Chaitra to Baisakh [approximately mid-march to mid-May], when there are fewer local fish available on the market, the fish can be sold at higher prices.”

Abu Bakar, a fisherman from of Sadar upazila said: “As the rainfall the last three months is less than in previous years, the water of the haor has dried up naturally. So both the lease-holders of private and leased jalmohal have utilized this opportunity to reap the benefits of the lower water levels.

However, as the haor's depth is tough to irrigate, big water reservoirs are preservednaturally. Lease-holders are draining jalmohals to irrigate their crops, and ease fishing. 

General Secretary of the Poribesh O Haor Unnayan Sangstha, as organization working for the preservation of wetlands, Pijush Kanti Purkayasthya, said: “Due to some corrupt leaseholders and businessmen, the fish resources are now threatened. 

They are violating the lease laws to reap higher profits. Strict measures should be applied against them.”

Chairman of Fatehpur union of Bishshyambhorpur upazila, Ranjit Chowdhury Rajan said: "The rainfall in the monsoon season is less in comparison to other years.

In the beginning of "Boro," cultivating season, thousands of farmers are suffering from a lack of available water resources. Because of this, farmers are draining their haors inappropriately. 

District Fisheries officer Mohammad Aminul Haque said, "We are seizing the irrigation machines by acting on tip-offs from the areas where fishing is likely." Upazila offices have been instructed to do the same.

Our officials have been ordered to take additional measures that might be necessary to control the situation by regular monitoring.”