"I got 20kgs of rice from the government for my family during the ban; it was not sufficient," said a fisherman, Nepal Das
Fishermen and traders are now passing a very busy time as the 90-day ban on fishing in Kaptai Lake of Rangamati came to an end.
The Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation (BFDC) enforces the ban for three months every year, from May 1 to July 30, to facilitate breeding of fish in the lake.
Around 23 thousand registered fishermen are now taking preparation in full swing to net fish in the lake, hoping to get relief from financial crises they went through due to the ban.
Meanwhile, many fishermen expressed concern over the probability of reduced catches compared to last year, as it appeared to them that the quantity of water in the lake is not enough.
Last year 12,695 tons of fish were caught from the lake, enabling the government to earn a revenue of around 16 crores, according to the Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation (BFDC) Rangamati office.
During a visit to Notun Jaliapara, Puraton Jaliapara, Islampur, Shariatpur and Santalpara of Rangamati Sadar, this correspondent found that some families of the fishermen were making new nets and boats while many others were mending their old paraphernalia.
Fisherman Subash Das of Puraton Jaliapara said: "Fishermen have no other source of income than fishing. We used up all our savings during the ban. Our suffering will aggravate if we do not get enough fish as the ban has now been lifted."
"I got 20kgs of rice from the government for my family during the ban but it was not sufficient," said another fisherman, Nepal Das.
He demanded that the government increase the amount of rice as compensation during these bans.
Udoyon Barua, a fish trader and general secretary of Rangamati Fisheries Association, said that fishing began again after the ban was lifted. "But we are worried as we may not get a reasonable price due to Covid-19."
Manager of Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation (BFDC) Lieutenant Colonel M Touhidul Islam said: 'This year we have released 43,074 kgs fish hatchlings in the lake. We hope fishermen will be able to get sufficient quantities of fish including carps."
When asked if the fish traders are worried about getting a reasonable price during this Covid-19 pandemic, Touhidul said the fish of the Kaptai Lake is very tasty and has a high demand. For this reason, traders will be able to get a handsome price."