Despite the seasonal ban on fishing for Ilish during its breeding period having dramatically raised supply, prices of the fish have soared to new heights due to inclement weather.
According to the Chittagong Fisheries Office, some 60 metric tons of the fish were netted last year. This year, the amount will cross 100 metric tons in Chittagong city alone.
According to wholesalers, the abundant haul of Ilish had initially lowered prices of the fish to as low as Tk22,000 per maund from highs of Tk28,000 for larger specimens.
However, as rain and severe weather curtails the efforts of suppliers in delivering the fish, the price of large Ilish has increased to Tk30-32,000 per maund.
Similarly, the prices of medium and small varieties have gone up to Tk17-18,000 and Tk10-12,000 from Tk5,000 and Tk3,000 respectively.
This increase in prices may prove to be temporary, considering the weather clears and Ilish continue to be caught at the current rate, the wholesalers added.
There are a total of 2,400 registered fishermen in Chittagong. Of them, as many as 2,000 fishermen are involved in fishing for Ilish, said a source at the Chittagong Fisheries office.
On a spot visit to Fishery Ghat in the port city on Friday, massive hauls of Ilish were seen being unloaded. Fishermen said this was a daily occurrence this year.
“It is a matter of great joy for us that this time we are catching Ilish of bigger sizes. We usually supply the fish to over 50 markets of the city and 14 upazilas of the district,” said Mohammad Ali, president of Sonali Mechanised Fishing Industry Cooperative Association.
Kamal Uddin, assistant fisheries officer of Chittagong, said that the seasonal ban on fishing for the fish species triggered the increase in output.
“With the help of district administration and law enforcing agencies, we successfully enforced the seasonal ban and it played a pivotal role in raising the output. Ilish fishing has risen significantly this year due to better management during the spawning season, intensified vigilance against catching, marketing and trading during the ban and increased frequency of drives against offenders,” he said.
“A single mother Ilish can spawn as many as 2.5 million eggs. The 65-day ban on fishing in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Bay of Bengal provided the sea fish an opportunity to replenish their population,” the fisheries officer added.
Fishing by commercial trawlers in the country’s EEZ is prohibited from May 20 to July 23 every year.
The government this year banned catching Ilish from March 1 until April 30 to allow proper breeding of fry.
According to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Ilish contributes one percent to the total gross domestic production and 11 percent to the total fish production of the country.
As per international research organisation World Fish, Bangladesh is the leading country in Ilish production with 65%, while India’s contribution is 10-15% and Myanmar’s is 8-10%.