Rising fuel prices also weigh on hilsa
Hilsa, a sea fish, moves in rivers to lay eggs before returning to the sea. Schools of young hilsa also return to the sea. It is during this return trip that the young ones are made. take in fine nets placed near the shore.
“The larger fish that go deep into the sea stay out of reach and fishermen have to depend on the youngest that weigh less than 500g,” said Rabin Das, who owns a number of trawlers.
The catch of hilsa under 500g was banned in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar almost three decades ago to protect the rapidly depleting fish population due to indiscriminate fishing. While Bangladesh has been extremely successful in enforcing the ban and reviving the Hilsa population in its waters, India and Myanmar have also had some success.
But with diesel prices rising by more than 30 percent over the past 12 months, fishermen are forced to stay along the coast. The situation is such that last week the Fisheries Department searched and seized a ton of juvenile hilsa from a trawler that had returned to Kakdwip. The fishermen admitted to fishing in shallow water near the shore.
A small estimate will help to understand the situation. A year ago, a round trip for deep sea fishing by trawler cost Rs 1.5 lakh, including wages and food for 15 to 16 fishermen on board.
“We were using 1,200 liters of fuel for a 15 day trip and the expenses were around Rs 84,000. Now only 800 liters of fuel cost us Rs 75,000 and as other expenses have also increased, we are fishing. along the coast, ”Rabin Das said.
“Fishermen are forced to engage in illegal fishing, otherwise they cannot cover the cost. We do our best to prevent them from catching juvenile hilsa. We distributed leaflets and carried out awareness campaigns to prevent fishing during the hilsa breeding season. But they use fine bottom fillets instead of wire netting, which makes it difficult for young fish to get out, “a senior fisheries department official said.
“We have tried to educate our fellow fishermen to stop fishing in troubled waters, but persuading them has become more difficult following the massive increase in fuel prices. Whatever the situation, this illegal practice must be stopped. the forces and pressures the fishing industry might face, ”said Kakdwip Fishermen’s Association secretary Bijon Maity.
“Fishermen are destroying their own future. We must recognize this as an ecological crime and act with firmness like Bangladesh is doing. Otherwise, hilsa will be gone soon,” he added.
sbg / bg / ksk /