Defying a government ban, hundwreds of fishermen catch wild shrimp fries in the coastal areas of Chittagong in a mindless act that kills fries of other fish species as well.
The Department of Fisheries in a survey found that 75 to 100 fries of other species get killed in attempts to catch every shrimp fry, said Kamal Uddin Chowdhury, Chittagong district fisheries officer.
The government in 2000 banned catching of wild shrimp fries during the peak season from March to July.
In 2013, the government also imposed a ban on the use of bag nets in the peak catching season.
On a recent visit to a coastal area from the port city's Patenga to Halishahar, this correspondent found hundreds of catchers sorting out fries from their catches and dumping fries of other species.
Most fry catchers are landless people from the coastal areas of Khulna, Bagerhat, Noakhali, Hatia and Kutubdia.
Abdul Aziz, a 70-year-old fisherman from Hatia, said they set the funnel-shaped nets in the beach.
Fries of different species of fishes, including shrimp, swim into the bag nets during high tide, when fishes are caught twice a day. Bag nets prevent even smallest fries from escaping.
Each fisherman catches 300 to 500 shrimp fries a day and sells them at Tk 3 each. Some businessmen buy the fries and resell them to shrimp farms in Khulna.
Around 10 lakh fries are collected from the area every day, said Akkas Uddin, a shrimp fry trader based in South Halishahar who collects fries from Patenga to Halishahar area.
Probhati Dev, district fisheries officer, said they are conducting regular drives to stop shrimp fry catching as it has adverse impacts on nature by reducing the species of fishes and hampering sea biodiversity.
The officer said they have seized around 20 lakh shrimp fries from Chittagong city in April 2014 and two cases were filed against three persons who were caught red-handed.