Huge quantities of fish fries, fingerlings and aquatic animals are being destroyed every day in Harinbaria canal of Barguna’s Taltali upazila where unscrupulous fishers set up over a thousand fine fishing nets, locally known as “bhasan jaal”, across the canal.
Locals also alleged that they were being unable to use the waterway as the nets block their movement through the entire width of the 30-kilometre long canal all throughout the year.
Connecting the Payra river to the north and the Neelganj river to the south in Kalapara upazila, Harinbaria canal flows through Borobogi, Chhotobogi and Karaibaria unions in Taltali upazila. The canal is the primary source of water for thousands of inhabitants of surrounding villages.
Several thousand people also make a living by fishing in the canal.
But, over the past few years, the fishers became too aggressive and inconsiderate of the fact that the biodiversity of the area cannot be destroyed for their financial gains and that people in the area have the right to move freely on the canal, said a number of locals requesting not to be named.
The extra fine nets or ‘bhasan jaals’ the fishers use catch anything that moves in the water, they said, adding that small fish fries and other aquatic animals die after the fishers lift up the catch and sort out larger fish for sale.
While speaking with this correspondent, Ishaq Ali Hawlader, a fisherman from Haribaria village, said he catches fish all year round by placing several ‘bhasan jaals’ on the canal near Haribaria bridge.
Depending on the time of the year, he makes between Tk 500 and Tk 1,000 daily, he also said.
When asked if causing obstruction of movement on a public waterway was an acceptable practice, Abul Kalam, another fisherman from the same village, said he had been fishing this way as others were doing it too.
Many villagers in the area this correspondent spoke to said they were highly concerned that unless the killing of fish fries and other aquatic animals are stopped immediately, the canal will soon be entirely devoid of fish and the overall environment in surrounding areas will have an adverse effect.
Contacted, Taltali Upazila Fisheries Officer Shamim Reza said they do not allow the use of extra fine nets such as ‘bhasan jaal’ for fishing in public waterbodies and they often conduct drives to confiscate the fishing nets.
Regarding blocking of waterways, he said no one has the right to cause any hindrance to people’s movement on public waterbodies.
Drives against the use of unauthorised fishing nets and obstruction of movement in Harinbaria canal will be conducted again soon, Shamim also said.