Hilsha being netted in Padma River near Rajshahi

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RAJSHAHI, Oct 25, 2017 (BSS)- Fishermen are now catching Hilsha fishes including some sizeable ones in the Padma river adjacent to Rajshahi thanks to the 22 days government ban on catching brood hilsha.

Hazrat Ali, 48, a fisherman of Nabaganga area under Paba Upazila, said they are getting hilsha in the Padma river frequently. The fishermen are happy with this scenario, he said.

Abul Kashem, a fish retailer at Shaheb Bazar, said Padma’s hilsha is appearing in the market everyday since ending of the ban.

“Just six to seven years ago, there was hardly any Hilsha caught in the Padma. We had to depend on the supply from Barisal or other regions. But these days things have improved quite a lot,” he opined.

The Hilsa availability in the Padma river was decreasing tremendously over the last decades for increasing fishing pressure and environmental degradation.

Fishermen residing along the river in Rajshahi and Chapainawabgonj districts have become busy in fishing and marketing the catches. Similarly, a number of traders are rushing to the harvesting points for purchasing Hilsha.

Concerned officials here said the recent preservation efforts of the government resulted in an increased migration of Hilsha from the Bay of Bengal to Rajshahi region through the Padma.

Thereby, plenty of fishes are found in and around the spawning ground areas indicating a positive impact of ban on Hilsha fishing during spawning period.

With this breakthrough, hilsha are being sold in local markets and community level vending of the fish is witnessed in different areas like Paba, Godagari, Charghat and Bagha since expiry of the ban.

“I am earning Taka 1,000 to Taka 1,500 after harvesting Hilsha per day,” said Noimuddin, a fisherman of Matikata village under GodagariUpazila.

District Fisheries Officer Shubhash Chandra Shaha said 261 raids and 27 mobile courts were conducted in various riverine areas to enforce the ban properly.

During the period, eleven persons were sentenced to jail, fine worth Taka 48,200 were realized, 14 cases were lodged and 3.24 lakh meters current nets were destroyed.

On the other hand, district relief and rehabilitation office distributed 20 kilograms of rice each among of 1,800 fishermen for the first time in the district during the banned period.

Shubhash Shaha added that other fishes are also found in plenty in the spawning grounds and adjacent areas and thus it is assumed that fishing ban had positive impact on the successful breeding of other fishes.

“It’s good news that Hilshas are returning to the Padma River. We noticed fishermen have been catching Hilshas in the Padma here,” said Md Muniruzzaman, President of Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

He observed that Hilsha availability in the Rajshahi region had drastically fallen in the early 1990s as the fish stopped migrating to the Padma, largely due to overfishing of brood Hilshas and reduction in water flow in the river.

Praising the government initiatives in preserving Hilsha, the chamber leader opined that further success can be achieved by ensuring proper compensation for fishermen and completely stopping the use of gill net.

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