Poverty forces them to net fish amid Covid-19 shutdown | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 17, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:40 AM, April 17, 2020

Poverty forces them to net fish amid Covid-19 shutdown

Poverty has forced hundreds of fishermen to catch fish in the Brishakhali and Sugandha rivers of Jhalakathi amid the ongoing countrywide shutdown to combat Covid-19.

Many fishermen said they are yet to receive any relief from the government.

During a visit, this correspondent found a huge number of fishermen netting fish in the rivers on small and large boats.

The fishermen said they are bound to catch fish in this time of coronavirus, a deadly new contagious disease, amid vigilance by Bangladesh Coast Guard as they have no food in their house.

They are struggling to feed their families in this time of crisis as there is not enough food in their house, said Abu Hanif, a fisherman of Nalbunia village in Nalchity upazila, adding that finding no other alternative, they were catching fish putting their lives at risk in this time of coronavirus outbreak.

"If we don't go for fishing, we have to stay in house without food," he said.

Hanif further said the price of fish has fallen drastically in the local bazars as customers and traders in the district cannot go outside home due to the Covid-19 shutdown. So, their income has gone down.

"I used to earn Tk 700 to Tk 1200 a day on average selling fish before the crisis time, but now I earn Tk 200 to Tk 300 only," said Shahidul Islam, another fisherman of Badurtola Bazar in Rajapur upazila.

"It is very difficult to maintain my seven-member family with the small income," he added.

"Every day I have to incur loss as the number of customer has dropped drastically due to coronavirus fears," said Hasib, a fish wholesaler of Badurtola Bazar.

As the transport services have been suspended during the shutdown, he cannot send the fish to different district towns, said Hasib, adding that, he even cannot store it due to lack of ice.

Nurul Alam, a member of Ranapasha Union Parishad in Nalchity, said hundred fishermen live in his ward but the authorities are ye to send any aid for them.

There are 5265 registered and 5000 unregistered fishermen in Jhalakathi, according to the fisheries department in the district.

Babul Krishna Ojha, deputy director of fisheries department in the district, said the fishermen are not given any food in this time of crisis, but 1500 families of fishermen are given 40 kg of rice a month each during the ongoing ban on jatka netting.

Hilsa catching is suspended from November to June to facilitate breeding of the popular fish.

Md Johor Ali, deputy commissioner (DC) of Jhalakathi, said the most affected people in the district have been given relief during the ongoing countrywide shutdown, but he is not aware that the poor fishermen are yet to get any aid.

They will take immediate steps to provide food to the fishermen, said the DC.

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