'Not normal': Fish shortage in Hakaluki haor leaves anglers in despair
This is usually that time of the year when anglers of Hakaluki haor smile ear to ear. "This is the time to catch large hauls from the Haor," said angler Mansur Ali. "With the income from these few months, I have no trouble running my family of seven."
But those like Mansur aren't smiling this year. Owing to a shortage of water in the haor, fish have almost disappeared.
"I don't have any land, my only source of income is through fishing. If there aren't any fish in the haor, I don't know how I'm going to see out the year," a despondent Mansur told this correspondent.
"Hakaluki's fishers are facing a livelihood crisis," said Saidul Hasan Shipon, general secretary of Kulaura Sangbadik Samitee.
"I've seen many anglers toiling all day at the haor, but returning empty-handed. This is unprecedented and not normal."
According to sources in the fisheries department, the haor is facing this shortage of water due to low rainfall last year and lack of upstream water.
During a recent visit to Islampur Bazar under Kulaura upazila of Moulvibazar, this correspondent saw only a minimum amount of water in the canals, beels and reservoirs of the haor.
Local fishers were seen spending their time playing ludo as their luck had run out.
The same picture could be seen at Fenchuganj area of Sylhet, where many are dependent on the haor for their livelihood.
Contacted, Sultan Mahmud, assistant director of the Hilsa Resource Development and Management Project at the Dhaka Fisheries Department, said, "Hakaluki is a major source of fish stock. But the water here is drying up due to sand and sediment flowing in from connecting rivers."
As a solution, he proposed, "April is the breeding season for fish. If fishing is banned at the haor during that time, may be the fish can increase the next season."
He said he has already contacted the fisheries and livestock ministry in this regard, which has taken the matter seriously.