Fishermen demand compensation
Bangladesh Fish Workers' Alliance yesterday demanded a monthly allowance of Tk 8,000 per family as compensation during the 22-day ban on hilsa fishing that began on October 7.
They said each of the family is entitled to 40 kilogrammes of rice under the Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) programme during the ban, but many of them get 25 to 30 percent less than that.
They were speaking at a press conference at the Jatiya Press Club.
The government has issued ID cards to fishermen, but 40 percent of those are given to people not involved in fishing, they alleged. Thus, the community is being deprived of their entitlement, said a press release.
Mizanur Rahman Bahadur of Cox's Bazar Fishing Boat Fish Workers' Union, said there are about 6,000 fishermen who live in Cox's Bazar Sadar area, but only 2,500 are registered. “None of them has received any ration or VGF support yet,” he said.
Badrul Alam of Bangladesh Farmers' Federation said fishermen who fish in inundated fields, do not get just price due to influence of middlemen.
In a keynote presentation, Mujibul Haque Munir, assistant director of COAST Trust, which coordinates activities of organisations comprised of fishermen, said annual hilsa catch stands at about Tk 8.2 billion, which is 12 percent of the country's annual fish production.
He said some three million people are involved in hilsa fishing, but they are often deprived of their rights.
Mustafa Kamal Akanda of COAST Trust said contribution of the fisheries sector to GDP is 3.57 percent and the authorities should consider fishermen's issues with utmost importance.