Random jatka netting in southern rivers
Some 10,000 fishermen are using banned 'current net' for fishing in southern districts of Barisal, Jhalakathi, Pirojpur, Chandpur and Bagerhat as river erosion, decrease in crop production and lack of employment, force the ultra-poor people to take fishing for survival.
While on board the BBC's Nodi Pathe Bangladesh boat, this correspondent saw hundreds of fishermen fishing with the banned net in Kirtonkhola, Padma, Meghna, Pacha, Sandha and Hizla rivers.
The use of current net, a kind of transparent nylon net, and nets with holes smaller than 4.5cm, is contributing mostly to the depletion of hilsha fish stock as jatka (hilsha fry) is caught in the nets.
According to the Fisheries Protection and Conservation Act 1985, catching, carrying, marketing, and possessing of jatka up to 23 cm or nine inches, is totally forbidden from November to April.
The fishermen, however, said they catch jatka as they have no other means for survival.
BBC World Service organised the month-long tour through the major rivers in the country to focus on the issues relating to climate change and its impact on the livelihoods of the people of Bangladesh. A number of BBC journalists from different countries are on the boat to witness the climate change and its effects in Bangladesh.
As the boat stopped in the middle of the Kirtonkhola, Hizla and Meghna rivers, this correspondent talked to a number of fishermen who have long been using the banned net for fishing.
Several fishermen said they know that the use of 'current net' is banned but they are fishing with it as they have no others means to survive.
"We have lost everything due to river erosion. How will we survive if we cannot catch fish?" said Ahmed Ali Khan, a fisherman of Mehendiganj upazila in Barisal, who have been using current net for the last 15 years.
“As we cannot afford large nets which is costly, we have to use current nets,” he said when asked why they catch jatka which is forbidden.
Abdus Sattar, another fisherman of Mehendiganj upazila, also expressed similar views.
Sometimes police on patrol take away the banned net, fishermen said, they are ready to quit fishing, at least the use if current net, if they get alternative work for survival.