The authorities have jailed and fined 89 fishermen for defying a fishing ban
Despite a two month ban in Chandpur, fishermen are continuing to catch jatka—ilish fry less than 25cm long—in the Padma and Meghna rivers.
It is illegal to catch jatka from the afore-mentioned rivers during March and April.
The Chandpur District Fisheries Office said, in March alone, the mobile court held 63 sessions for jatka fishing. The authorities conducted 223 drives and confiscated 6,919kg of jatka. At the local market, a kilogram of jatka typically sells for Tk120.
They also confiscated 8,100,000 metres of fishing nets worth Tk16.17 crore. The taskforce jailed and fined 89 fishermen for being involved with illegal fishing activities in the month of March. Jail time ranged from a month to two years.
The confiscated jatka was donated to orphanages and the fishing nets were burned.
To ensure that the ban is being maintained, the police, Bangladesh Coast Guard, Bangladesh River Police, and the district administration are all keeping watch over the area.
Still, the fishermen come from all over the district to illegally catch jatka after dark.
District Fisheries Officer of Chandpur Asadul Baki said: “Every time a drive is conducted, we have to hold 10-25 fishermen. And yet, the fishermen do not pay any heed.
“We are giving people jail time and fines, but, still they will not stop catching jatka.”
Abdur Rahim, a local fisherman, said: “Fishermen from Mohanpur, Ekhlaspur, and Gajaria come to this area and illegally catch jatka. Some of the local fishermen do it too. If the authorities cannot stop them, then what is the point of the ban?”
Another fisherman Jahir Uddin said: “We are abiding by the rules. However, the government only gives us 40kg of rice a month. It is not possible to keep the whole household fed with that amount.”
• In March alone the authorities conducted 223 drives and confiscated 6,919kg of jatka
• The authorities also confiscated 8,100,000 metres of fishing nets worth Tk16.17 crore
• The confiscated jatka was donated to orphanages, the fishing nets were burned
• 51,000 fishermen in Chandpur received 40kg rice each, throughout the duration of the ban
• Fishermen come from all over the district to catch illegally catch jakta ilish
Zakir Hossain, another fisherman told the Dhaka Tribune that they are not going into the rivers while the ban is in effect.
“We are fixing and maintaining out boats and nets, to keep them in good shape so we can use them when the ban is lifted,” he said.
The authorities in charge of maintaining the ban are calling the fishermen “reckless and greedy.”
Chandpur Additional District Magistrate Abdullah Al Mahmud Zaman said: “Many fishermen are not heeding the ban and are greedily continuing to catch jatka. We are trying our best, but I would not say we are 100% successful.”
District Fisheries Officer of Chandpur Asadul Baki said: “Out of the 89 fishermen given jail time or a fine, one got two years in jail, 81 got one year in jail, and seven of them got one month of prison time.
“We have also confiscated two engine-powered boats.”
He said the authorities are planning on taking strict action against the fishermen that did not abide by the law.
“We are compiling a list of the offenders’ names. We will revoke their rights to go fishing in the rivers.”
He mentioned that at the Halda River, the fishermen themselves keep guard during the period of a ban, so no one can break the law.
“We hope to see such an initiative in this area too. Until then, we have to remain vigilant,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner of Chandpur Mazedur Rahman Khan said: “Every month almost 51,000 fishermen in this area get 40kg rice each, throughout the duration of the ban.
“If they do not abide the law even after this, we have no scope of going easy on them.”