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No respite from mechanized boats plying Halda river

  • Published at 06:37 am May 22nd, 2019
Boatmen are standing on mechanized boat Dhaka Tribune

Local experts have urged the authorities concerned to take stern action to against the culprits  

Posing a serious threat to aquatic life—and particularly migrating broodfish—mechanized boats are continuing to ply the Halda river during spawning season.

This river is also known as Bangladesh’s largest natural breeding ground for carp, and, despite a ban on the usage of all mechanized boats on the river from March to July every year, the authorities have failed to fully stop these boats.  

On May 21 this year, the Hathazari upazila administration seized and destroyed two mechanized boats that were being used to extract sand from  the river.

Following  May 17, Assistant Commissioner (Land) of Hathazari Samrat Khisa seized two more mechanized boats from the river's Sattarghat point and destroyed them, complying with the ban.

Authorities are concerned

Confirming the matter to Dhaka Tribune, Hathazari UNO Ruhul Amin said: “We are conducting drives on a regular basis to ensure the uninterrupted spawning of broodfish in the Halda.

"The Halda river is our national asset. It is our duty to conserve the river and ensure smooth, seamless and disturbance-free fish spawning." 

"Recently, we seized 15 engine-run boats from the Halda river. We also jailed and fined three offenders.
 “In most cases, the mechanized boats are operated during night-time, making it difficult for us to apprehend the culprits," the UNO added.

Echoing the UNO, Hathazari upazila Fisheries Officer Azharul Islam said: “We have regularly been conducting drives to ensure a safe environment for the aquatic life here in the river.   

According to the local analysts and the spawn collectors, the plying of mechanized boats on the river is responsible for the recent deaths of several broodfish.

They said that all the fish died after being hit by the propellers of these engine-run boats and sand-extracting dredgers.

Expert’s opinion 

Addressing the issue, noted Halda researcher Prof Manzoorul Kibria said that the repeated incidences of fish deaths—particularly during the spawning season—have turned out to be a big cause for concern for local spawn collectors.

"The ban on mechanized boats and dredgers during spawning season should be strictly enforced for the sake of conserving the river's ecosystem. 

“The Department of Fisheries, Department of Environment, and local administration should strictly monitor this," said Prof Kibria, also coordinator of the Halda river Research Laboratory.   

Death of the broodfish 

From April 16 till May 5, six broodfish were found dead in the Halda River.

On May 5, a 4kg mrigal fish was found dead  in the river's Ajimer Ghat area under Hathazari upazila.

On April 29, locals spotted a dead mrigal carp weighing 7kg with injury marks at the river's Kumarkhali point under the Uttar Madarsha union of Hathazari upazila.

On April 27, a mrigal fish weighing around 12kg was found floating on the river, and later was handed over to the Halda river Research Laboratory to determine the cause of death.

On April 9, a mrigal weighing 8kg was found dead in the river's Khalifaghona point. Bruises were found on the body of the broodfish.

On March 4, a 12kg catla fish and a long-whiskered catfish were found floating on the river at Gorduara point. 

Additionally, the survival of critically endangered dolphins is also at stake in the Halda river.

On April 16, a six-month-old dolphin with scars was found floating at Madunaghat point of the river.

In 2010, the government declared 40km of the Halda river—from Nazirhat to Kalurghat—as a sanctuary for aquatic animals.

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