'If there is a flash flood in the haor areas, storm water flows down to the Meghna River through the Kushiyara River, and ilish enters Hakaluki from the Meghna'
Fishermen of Moulvibazar are pocketing good profits, as ilish are being netted in an abundant number in the Hakaluki Haor.
A beam of satisfaction is seen in the faces of thousands of fishermen, and they are passing busy time with cheerful mood.
Traders as well as fishermen remain busy round the clock in unloading the delicious fish from boats, and supplying those to wholesale markets across Bangladesh.
According to Kulaura Upazila Fisheries Department, fishermen have been netting ilish in the haor areas since 2016. Ilish was a hard catch in the last three years, but due to this year’s abundant flash floods, and persistent rain, the Kushiyara River over-flowed, and ilish, along with other freshwater fish, entered Hakaluki Haor.
Local fishermen Moyna Mia, Masuk, and Keramot Ali told Dhaka Tribune that on a few occasions they caught ilish weighing up to 900 grams. But usually most of the catch was smaller in size, and weighed between 300 and 600 grams.
Mohammad Sultan Mahmud, fisheries officer in Kulaura upazila of Moulvibazar, said: “If there is a flash flood in the haor areas, storm water flows down to the Meghna River through the Kushiyara River, and ilish enters Hakaluki from the Meghna.”
He further said the 65-day ban on fishing in the Bay of Bengal also contributed to the abundant quantity of ilish this year.
Fish traders of Achurighat, Chidrat Ali, Moshabbir Ali, and Kirendranath said, Hakaluki Haor is booming with all kinds of fishes because the Ministry of Fisheries And Livestock (MOFL) released a large amount of fish larvae in the haor.
Price of ilish is also decreasing in the local markets as plenty of ilish is being netted. Its price in wholesale markets now range between Tk 500-600 per kg depending on size.
Sirajuddin Ahmed Badshah, chief of a Moulvibazar-based local organization that works to protect the haor and the farmers, and preserve natural resources, said: “Large ilish were a common catch in the haor and Kushiyara River in the past. But since the Buri Keari embankment was installed, ilish are left on the other side, and fishermen were unable to catch enough fish.”
“If the embankment is demolished, and other water bodies dredged, larger quantity of ilish would have been available, and we could have enriched our bio-diversity as well,” he added.
Dr Mrittunjay Kundu, professor of Sylhet Agricultural University’s Aquatic Resource Management Department, said: “It is unusual for ilish to change their direction, and lay eggs in the haor. It will be a milestone if ilish can be aqua-cultured in the haor.
“Though in haor, ilish cannot grow to their fuller size as much as the flowing-water ilish, we should do more research for aquafarming ilish in large water bodies like a haor.”
Dr Mrittunjay further added: “Haors are getting polluted because of the insecticides used by paddy farmers. Biodiversity of these areas are at a huge risk due to unscrupulous use of harmful chemicals."