This year's Jatka Protection Week, a ban on fishing young hilsa that are smaller than 10 inches in length, begins today with an aim to boost production of the national fish.
To observe the week, the Department of Fisheries will organise various programmes including rallies, workshops and discussions till March 22 in order to raise awareness among people, especially fishermen and traders.
State Minister for Fisheries and Livestock Ashraf Ali Khan Khasru came up with the announcements at a press briefing held at Matsya Bhaban in Dhaka yesterday.
“Hilsa is our pride… It has about one percent contribution to our GDP. Around five lakh people are dependent on catching hilsa, while many others are directly or indirectly involved in the trade,” said the state minister.
To protect the national fish, the government has taken many initiatives, including the Jatka Protection Week, he said at the briefing.
The government has been conducting mobile court drives since November last year to implement the ban on catching and trading “jatka” (young hilsa), and the drives will continue till June, Ashraf said.
The mobile court will also destroy illegal fishing net as well as its production and trade, he added.
Addressing the loss of earnings of fishermen during the ban, the state minister said the government has brought about 2,48,674 fishermen families under a social safety net programme called VGF (Vulnerable Group Feeding) this year.
“We also provided them with materials for getting involved in alternative occupations,” he added.
Asked whether fishermen are actually receiving the aid or not, Ashraf said they are providing the assistance through issuing a certain “card” for the fishermen.
He expressed hope that the production of hilsa will increase this year.