Coastal fishermen, especially those fishing at sea, are passing days amid much hardship, facing the coronavirus pandemic, super cyclone Amphan and lastly the ongoing 65-day-long ban on fishing while the compensation provided by the government is too small to meet their requirement.
After the report of first coronavirus infection in the country in mid-March this year, fishermen could not catch fish in the sea due to strict health regulations under the government directives.
They have also been badly affected by the onslaught of super cyclone Amphan that hit the coastal region on May 20 while the ongoing 65-day ban on all types of deep-sea fishing, aimed at ensuring a safe breeding season for marine fish, began the same day.
The ban will end on July 23.
The longtime unemployment left the fishermen in dire straits.
Many of them are depending on loan and help for running their families while some are trying to do other work.
Abu Bakar, 45, a fisherman of Gangamati area adjacent to Kuakata beach under Kalapara upazila, said he is somehow managing to survive by borrowing from relatives.
"Often we have to pass the days half-fed. I started fishing in the sea in childhood. Other than the ancestral occupation, I don't know any work to earn a living," he said.
Hanif Mia, 40, another fisherman in the same area, said he had never seen such a disaster in his life.
"As the fishing has remains banned for long, I occasionally sell vegetables in Kuakata to survive with a family of six. But I don't have the capital to run the trade regularly," he said.
Basir Uddin, a fisherman from Latachapali area, said, "I could not catch fish during the lockdown due to coronavirus. Then cyclone Amphan disrupted our life. Afterwards came the 65-day ban. We are in great distress. So far, my family has got 46 kg of rice as support from the government, which is too little to meet our requirement."
The fisheries department has arranged providing 92 kg of rice as aid in two installments to each of the fishermen who have become unemployed during the ban period. The first installment of 46 kg was distributed in late June, while the second installment is yet to arrive.
Md Ansar Uddin Mollah, chairman of Latachapali Union Parishad, also a leader of Alipur trawler owners' association, said, "The fishermen families are now in great distress. The compensation given by the government do not cover everyone. It is important to bring all registered fishermen under the programme."
Kalapara Upazila Fisheries Officer Manoj Kumar Saha said there are 18,305 registered fishermen in the upazila, about 90 percent of whom fish in the sea. Fishermen are living a miserable life due to the coronavirus outbreak, the onslaught of super cyclone Amphan and the 65-day ban.