The floods this year have inflicted a severe blow to fish farms in affected districts including Gaibandha and Tangail where partial damage estimation so far amounts to around Tk 30 crore.
According to fisheries department in Gaibandha, fish from as many as 6,290 ponds and hatcheries were washed away by the flood, causing Tk 26.84 crore worth of damage to farmers in six out of seven upazilas in the district.
The total number of affected farmers is no less than five thousand, as per an estimate by the department.
With water flowing a record 150 centimetres above danger mark in more than 400 villages of 49 unions, including two municipalities, the flood also damaged crops and dwellings belonging to thousands of inhabitants as well as infrastructures including roads and embankments.
Losing their crops and fisheries, a large number of the affected people took refuge at nearby shelters.
There were 6,290 ponds and hatcheries on 760 hectares of land in the six upazilas and an estimated 2,060 tonnes of fish and around 1.11 crore fish fries from the fisheries were washed away by floodwaters, fisheries department officials said.
The department also estimated that Tk 2.06 crore worth of infrastructural damage has been sustained by the fisheries in the upazilas.
Budharam Das, a fish farmer in Gajaria union of Phulchhari upazila, said fish from his two ponds escaped into overflowing floodwater before he was able to take any steps to contain the fish inside the ponds.
The onrush of floodwater inundated the ponds so fast that the fish farmers did not even get any time to catch their fish. Although a few of the farmers set up nets around their ponds, the nets could not withhold against the strong current, he also said.
Anil Chandra Das from Bhasarpara village in the same upazila said all the fish he had been rearing in three ponds for the last six months were washed away by the flood.
Gaibandha Fisheries Officer Abdud Daiyan recommended fish farmers to seek advice from fisheries department on how to properly treat the flooded fish ponds before cultivate fish in those again.
He also assured that the government would provide necessary assistance to the affected fish farmers.
Fish farmers in Tangail’s six upazilas -- Bhuapur, Kalihati, Sadar, Basail, Nagarpur and Dhanbari -- also incurred huge loss after the flood inundated their fisheries.
Fisheries department in Tangail in a primary estimation found that 240 fish farmers in the six upazilas sustained around Tk 4 crore worth of damage as the flood inundated 786 ponds belonging to them.
Bhuapur upazila saw the highest devastation, with 185 fish ponds, belonging to 55 farmers, washed away by floodwaters.
Many of the farmers said after losing their fish to the flood, they no longer have the capacity to repay the loans they took from banks and moneylenders.
Fish farm owner Shamsur Rahman from Solimabad in Nagarpur upazila said he borrowed Tk 1.5 lakh from a moneylender and invested it to rear fish in his pond on two bighas of land. But the flood has taken that all away. “Now I’m devastated. I have no idea how I would recover the loss and repay the loan.”
In mid-July, nearly 40 farmers under an association invested in a 42-bigha fish enclosure at a local waterbody in Dhokerkhul village of Dhanbari upazila.
All the farmers lost their investment after surging floodwaters damaged the enclosure and washed away around Tk 35 lakh worth of fish and fish fries from it, said several of the farmers.
Nurul Islam, fisheries officer in Tangail, said they were visiting affected areas to prepare a detailed list of fish farms affected by flood in Tangail.
During their visits, they have been providing advice to farmers regarding preparation of ponds for fish cultivation after the floodwater recedes.
There will also be post-flood rehabilitation programmes, under which the affected fish farmers will be provided with necessary assistance including the supply of fish fries, he added.
Our correspondents in Gaibandha and Tangail contributed to the story.