With the doom and gloom surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic slowly subsiding, the west bank of Barishal's Kirtankhola river has started to see increased activity.
At least 20-30 boats are seen either setting sail on a daily basis or anchoring with their prized catches -- hilsa.
The season is just getting started. At Barishal Port Road's hilsa market -- one of the biggest wholesale hilsa markets in the city -- supplies are higher than that of other seasons.
"Everything kind of clicked this season. The weather has been favourable, rainfall has been great, people did not net jatka as much due to government restriction and strict monitoring. Also, the pandemic forced many to stay ashore. Due to these reasons, the rivers and sea have seen less pollution too," said Bimol Chandra Das, district fisheries officer, Department of Fisheries, Barishal.
"Given all this, we're expecting a 10-20 percent increase in volume of catches this season," the official added.
Ujjal Kumar Das, a wholesaler, said, "This is the first time we're seeing hilsa of this size at the beginning of the season. Most of the catches are turning out to be around 1kg. I have at least 2,500-3,000 maunds available for the day."
A kilogramme of the fish is going for Tk 800, which is some Tk 200 less due to increased supplies. However, the situation is set to change once the ban on fishing in the sea is lifted on July 23, fisheries officials said.
Over the weekend, huge quantities of hilsa, weighing around 900 grammes to one kg, were seen at the market. From here, most of the fish will be sent to Dhaka and other destinations at other cities on trucks.
Ajit Kumar Das Manu, president of the Hilsa Wholesalers' Association, said most of the hilsa have been netted from Meghna and Elisha rivers of Bhola district.
Wholesaler Abu Bakr Siddik told The Daily Star that they are also selling hilsa below 750 gramnes to 950 grammes for Tk 500-650 each. If the fish comes from near the sea, the price decreases by at least Tk 100 per kg.
"The government imposed 65-day ban on netting at sea ends on July 23. After this, supply will also increase in the market," said Azizul Haque, deputy director of Barishal divisional fisheries department.