This year, 550,000 tons of Ilish likely to be produced due to the successful drive against illegal netting of jatka
People will get more delicious Ilish on their plates this year, thanks to a drop in river pollution due to restricted river transport movement for several months amid the coronavirus pandemic, says an expert.
Dr Anisur Rahman, a renowned Ilish expert at the Fisheries Research Institute, Chandpur, made these observations while talking to UNB.
"We have examined the river water and found that the pollution level in the river has gone down due to the suspension of river vessel movement amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The condition of the river was quite congenial for the availability of fish food. So, this year's Ilish will be more delicious, more flavorful," he said.
Ilish is now available in local markets due to the rise in river water levels and rain, though usually August, September, and October are the peak time to have Ilish, he said.
"This year, 550,000 tons of Ilish are expected to due to the successful drive against illegal netting of jatka (Ilish fry) in the river, which is more than the previous year," said Dr Anisur.
In Chandpur, the Boro Station fish market, the largest wholesale fish market, was flooded with Ilish.
However, the price is still high.
Abdul Khalek, a trader in the fish market, said: "Ilish is pricier as a big size of the fish is selling at Tk1,750 per kg."
In local fish markets, a one kg Ilish is selling for Tk1,000, an 800 gram Ilish for Tk700 to Tk800, and a half kg Ilish for Tk500 to Tk600.
Covid-19 hits customer turnout
Traders also said they are now facing a shortage of customers due to the coronavirus situation.
People from various parts of the country, including Dhaka, used to come to the fish market by launch, motorbike, train and other transport to buy Ilish, but the number of customers is now low due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Rabbi, a fish trader, said they are now idle due to lack of customers and the sale of packets and cartons used for transporting fish from one place to another is also poor.
At the Boro Station fisheries ghat, a large number of fishing trawlers and pickup vans were coming in with Ilish netted in the coastal areas of Bhola, Char Fashion, Alexandar, Hatia, and Kamalnagar in Lakshmipur and other nearby areas.
Abdul Khalek, president of Matshya Banik Shamity, said: "Ilish is coming to the ghat area on trawlers and trucks due to its availability in the river for the last four to five days. Workers are busy loading and unloading fish from morning till night with 2,000 to 3,000 maunds of Ilish being traded from the ghat every day."
Traders, mostly from Karwan Bazar, Azampur, Bypile, Pubail, Gazipur, Kishoreganj, Tangail, and Mymensingh, come to the area and purchase fish from the wholesale market along the ghat area.
Trader Sahabuddin Sardar said: "We have bought Ilish from the ghat area and are selling it in different parts of the country."
Last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) ranked Bangladesh as the fifth biggest aquaculture producer in the world. Aquaculture or aqua farming is defined by FAO as the production of fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and marine plants.
Meanwhile, Ilish production has jumped from 298,000 tons in fiscal year 2008-09, to almost 500,000 tons in 2017-18, according to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock.