A section of fishermen continue illegal netting of sharks in the Bay of Bengal as the fish is sold for good prices in different areas of the country.
Due to this, the number of sharks in the Bay of Bengal sees a gradual decrease, said a fish wholesaler at KB Ghat, a large fish landing station in Bagerhat.
Several fishermen coming to sell fish there said they go for fishing in the sea amid life risk but most of the money received from selling the catches, including those of hilsa, has to be given to the trawler owners as rent and repayment of advance money.
“We also get kamots (sharks), shaplapata and golpata fishes for which we don’t have to give any money to the trawler owner. And so, we catch these to get a good return,” said a Shamsu, a fisherman.
Once sharks were aplenty in the Bay of Bengal but it is less available now, said Itrup, another fisherman.
A large shark weighing three to five maunds can be sold for Tk 30,000 to 50,000 while a small sized shark, locally called churi kamot, brings up to Tk 150 each, said fishermen.
Fish wholesalers at KB Ghat, Pathorghata, Pararhaat as well as fish drying centres at Dublar Char and Putimari Char in the Sundarbans buy these sharks to sell for high prices in different areas of the country.
Shark fins often find way to posh hotels, stakeholders said, adding that the item is also exported to different countries.
“We buy churi kamot from KB Bazar. After drying, we send it to Chattogram. The item is also available in Barishal, Patharghata, Barguna, and Cox’s Bazar,” a leader of Bagerhat Coastal Fisheries Association said, seeking anonymity.
Prof Dr Md Nazmul Hasan of the Department of Fisheries and Marine Resource Technology of Khulna University said there is no statistics on the number of sharks in the coastal waters of Bangladesh.
“Assessment of the stock and further research on sharks in the Bay of Bengal is needed to protect this species,” he said.
Wildlife (Protection and Security) Act, 2012, prohibits catching of many species including dolphins and sharks in the Bay, said Mahmudul Hasan, divisional forest officer of the Sundarbans (East) Forest Division.
“In December, awareness campaigns will be conducted in different areas including Dublarchar, Meher Alir Char and Majher Kella to prevent catching of sharks and dolphins in the Sundarbans and the Bay. Besides, raids will be conducted if there is information of drying shark anywhere,” he said.