According to local fishermen, ilish spotted in abundance at the mouth of the sea are unable crossover to the rivers because of nets set up there allegedly by some influential people
Fishermen and traders at the famous Ilisha Ferry Ghat in Bhola are expressing frustrations over the lower turnout of ilish during an ongoing fishing season that is set to last around a month longer before another fishing ban is imposed.
Several fishermen at the fish landing station said their families are going through a tough time as the recent catches are not even covering the cost of the trawlers trips out on the Meghna and Tetulia rivers.
During a recent visit to Ilisha Ghat, this correspondent saw a small number of fishermen and traders lined up in front of the wholesale fish warehouse at the landing station. Fishermen were seen taking their catches up to the warehouses in bamboo baskets, but the numbers of fish are very low.
And the ilish that were found weighed around 1kg to 1.15kg. Fishermen and traders said the landing station would normally bustle with ilish during this time of the year.
Siraj Uddin, who came to sell ilish at the ghat, said: “I along with six other fishermen went out on the Meghna River on a trawler three days ago. After fishing for two days, we have fish worth only Tk22,000 to show for.
“We spent Tk5,000 on fuel and food. We will not get more than Tk400-500 each after paying off the trawler owner and the moneylender. But last year we had Tk2,000-3,000 each to ourselves after each trip.” he added.
Not only Siraj, but many other fishermen are also passing their days in frustration due to fewer catches. A number of fishermen said they will fail to repay their loan taken from moneylenders because of poor netting.
Meanwhile, several fishermen alleged that a number of influential people set up nets including mosquito nets at the mouth of the rivers, thereby obstructing ilish from swimming into rivers from the sea. For this reason, fishermen are not getting the expected fish from Megha and Tetulia rivers.
A huge number of ilish has reportedly been spotted at the mouth of the sea.
Wholesaler Imon from the landing station said: “Last year during this period, around 400 to 500 maunds of ilish were transported to different places of the country from here every day. But we are currently sending only 80-90 maunds.”
Moni Holader of Kolatoli’s Fishery Ghat, said: “The numbers of ilish in my warehouse are less due to the poor catching in Meghna River.”
However, the district’s Fisheries Department has targeted to catch 65,000 tons ilish this season, said Senior Fisheries Officer Asaduzzaman.
He said: “Due to the climate change, the number of ilish has decreased in the rivers.” But he hoped fishermen will get expected ilish from Meghna and Tetulia Rivers at the end of Ashwin (Bangla month).
Speaking on the issue, Bhola Fisheries Officer SM Azharul Islam, said: “Peak season for catching ilish has started. Huge numbers of ilish are being netted in seas. Ilish will swim to Meghna and Tetulia Rivers very soon and fishermen will be able to see it in abundance.”
When asked why the number of ilish is low in Meghna and Tetulia Rivers during this peak season, SM Azharul Islam did not reply.
Instead, he said: “Last year, the production target of ilish was 160,000 in Bhola and 170,000 tons of ilish were netted.”