The ongoing hilsa season sees poor netting of the popular fish in the coastal waters, much to the frustration of fishermen and traders of Bagerhat’s KB Ghat.
Several fishermen at the famous fish landing station said their families are passing hard days as the catches are not enough even to recover the cost of deep-sea trips on trawlers.
“Over 600 trawlers from Bagerhat got engaged in catching hilsa in the sea and different rivers after a 22-day ban on hilsa catching ended on July 23 but the catches are much less than expected,” said Hazi Abed Ali, president of Bagerhat KB Ghat Fishers Association.
Trawlers are returning with only two to ten pons (a pon=80 pieces) of hilsa and most of the fish are medium and small sized ones,” he said.
“We have got only three pons of hilsa in 15 days and sold it for Tk 26,000. “Considering the money we have spent, there is only a little profit, which is not enough to buy fuel, ice, and food to go to the sea again,” said Sagir Molla, 30, a fisherman of Patharghata, who came to sell fish at Bagerhat KB Ghat.
Another fisherman Akkas Ali, also owner of a trawler, said, “We are getting only five to six maunds (a maund = 40 kg) of hilsa roving all day and night in the sea whereas we got 20 to 25 maunds of the fish last year. After buying foods, nets and ice and paying the fishermen, I have not much money. Now I am worried about repaying the loan of Tk 5 lakh taken from an NGO.”
Trawler owner Altaf Majhi of Patharghata, who came to sell fish at KB Ghat, said he went to the deep sea with 12 fishermen and came back to the shore on August 30, after 12 days.
“We were able to catch only 10 pons of hilsa that sold for Tk 70,000 whereas we had to spend about Tk one lakh for the trip,” he said.
Harun Bara Mia, 55, a hilsa trader of Kachua upazila of Bagerhat, said he never saw such a crisis of hilsa in last 20 years.
Bagerhat District Fisheries Officer Dr Md Khaled Kanok attributed the less availability of hilsa to less rain amid the climate change.
However, the fishermen of Sharankhola near the Sundarbans are getting a little more hilsa than the fishermen of KB Ghat, he added.