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Jhalakathi fishermen ignore ban, catch mother ilish

  • Published at 12:43 pm October 14th, 2018
Fishermen in Jhalakathi are catching mother ilish despite the government's ban, in this photo taken on October 14, 2018 Dhaka Tribune

According to locals, a public representative is backing fishermen who violate the ilish ban

The fishermen in Jhalakathi are catching mother ilish—showing blatant disregard for the government’s fishing ban—instated to protect ilish’s spawning season. 

More than 400 local fishermen are competing with each other, daily, to fish for ilish in the Sugondha and Bishkhali rivers in the region—violating National Fisheries Week. The fish is openly being sold at local markets. 

Visiting the markets, the Dhaka Tribune has learned that ilish weighing around 1kg sells for between Tk100-400. Some of the fishermen also sell ilish door-to-door.

Some complain that the local Fisheries Department is not doing enough to prevent the illegal fishing and sale of ilish. Locals also allege that authorities are taking bribes to release those violating the fishing ban.

Speaking to the correspondent, residents of Boroia Village under Razapur Upazila complained that fishermen, backed by a group of local influential people, have been violating the ban for years.

The fish are sold and distributed before the police can arrive on the scene to investigate. According to locals, a local public representative is backing fishermen who violate the ilish ban. 

Even if someone is caught by the authorities for violating the law, the person is immediately released because of the intervention by the above-mentioned representative.

Conducting an independent investigation, the Dhaka Tribune has found that local fishermen are fishing ilish in broad daylight and under the cover of night. Hundreds of fishermen can be seen fishing in the spawning hotspots of the Sugondha and Bishkhali rivers.

 the cover of night. Hundreds of fishermen can be seen fishing in the spawning hotspots of the Sugondha and Bishkhali rivers.

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They were fishing without any concern of being caught by the authorities, as fishermen receive a tip-off about any impending drive being conducted by the authorities.

Locals also complain that this year, in comparison to last, there are fewer drives being conducted to prevent illegal fishing.

Culture of impunity

On Friday, locals detained three fishermen, along with their nets, at a Sugondha River canal. The trio was handed over to the District Fisheries Officer Babul Krishna, but the culprits were later released, said sources. 

Another two fishermen were detained with their boat and net, and then handed over to Nalchity Police Station Sub-Inspector (SI) Aziz. Their nets were later torched in the presence of police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Halim Talukder. 

However, there are complaints that the two fishermen were released following the intervention by a group of local influential people. 

Addressing the issue, Nalchity upazila fisheries officer Mizanur Rahman said: “Our drive against illegal fishing continues. We have only one trawler and available manpower is inadequate. So, conducting regular drives is becoming difficult.”

Meanwhile, District Fisheries Officer Babul Krishna said: “We are presently conducting drives in: Diakul, Badurtala, Janglia, and Nalchity Ferry Ghat. 

“In seven days, 24 mobile court sessions were held after: 50 drives [were conducted], 1,145kg of ilish and 125,000m of nets were seized, 13 cases were filed, Tk25,000 were fined, and 12 fishermen were sentenced to jail terms.”