Catching of hilsa is going on in all upazilas of Patuakhali although there is a 22-day ban in force against catching of the country’s most sought-after fish.
A large number of fishers have been out in the rivers -- especially the Tentulia, Ramnabad, Buragourango and Payra -- at night, while many others have been fishing even in the daytime.
Yesterday around noon, at least five fishing boats were spotted netting hilsa in the Tentulia river near Nimdee area of Baufal’s Dhulia union.
More fishing boats were seen catching the fish in Barodalima and Chandradwip areas of the same upazila. The scene was similar in Banshbaria area under Dashmina upazila.
A Nimdee resident said the fishers have been selling four pieces of hilsa for Tk 600 to Tk 1,000 and many of them are making door to door sales.
Fisherman Shah Alam from Banshbaria area said, “I’ve got monthly instalment payment for a loan that I took from an NGO. I can’t help fishing hilsa defying the ban as I have a family to support and there’s no other alternative.”
The government should forbid the NGOs and banks from making the borrowers repay loans during the fishing ban, he also said.
Zakir Hossain, another fisherman from Dashpara area in Baufal upazila, echoed the same.
Banshbaria Union Parishad Chairman Altaf Hossain said the government should take measures so the NGOs and banks do not collect payments against loans taken by fishers during the fishing bans.
Contacted, Mohammad Badol, coordinator of a local NGO, said they do not force fishers to repay loans and they would take it into consideration if any of the fishers approached the NGO, seeking exemption from payment obligations during the fishing ban.
Meanwhile, the fisheries department, assisted by the local administration, have been conducting raids against violators of the hilsa fishing ban.
As of yesterday, since the hilsa fishing ban commenced on October 9, the department and the administration carried out a total of 171 raids against violators of the ban in different parts of Patuakhali and seized 8.24 lakh metres fishing nets, with an estimated value of Tk 1.66 crore, according to sources at the fisheries department in Patuakhali.
So far, 2,195 kilograms of hilsa were seized, 90 fishermen were given jail sentences, Tk 1.90 lakh was collected in fines and 136 cases were filed during 92 raids carried out by mobile courts in the district.
Patuakhali District Fisheries Officer Molla Emdadullah said they have been maintaining a vigilant watch to protect mother hilsa during the ban.
The hilsa fishing ban will end on October 30.