Local fishermen fear a shortage of fish as a result of rampant fishing during an ongoing fishing ban
Allegations have surfaced about a local influential figure carrying out illegal fishing activities in a reservoir of Barapukuria coal mine in Parbatipur upazila of Dinajpur.
This 15-20ft deep reservoir, created as a result of underground coal mining, was declared a means for local fishermen to earn their livelihood.
Owned by the Barapukuria Coal Mining authority, the reservoir is currently under the jurisdiction of the upazila administration.
Asaduzzaman Asad, general secretary of the local fishermen's co-operative society, said: “In the last 15 years, local MP Mostafizur Rahman and the Barapukuria Coal Mining authority jointly released five tons of different species of fish fry in this reservoir.”
In addition, a few more tons of fish fry are released every year by the Upazila Fisheries Extension Department and various non-governmental organizations, he added.
It is estimated that there are fish worth over Tk1 crore in this 300-acre waterbody.
While only registered fishermen are allowed to catch fish in the reservoir, the ongoing three-month fishing ban imposed by the local administration temporarily bars them from doing so.
However, disregarding the restrictions, Rezwanul Haque, owner of ARB Brick Kiln, has been carrying out illegal fishing activities in the reservoir for the past week, said Md Nuruzzaman, president of the local fishermen’s co-operative society.
He said Rezwanul was catching around 10-12 tons of different species of fish from this reservoir every day.
Consequently, local fishermen fear a shortage of fish owing to the rampant fishing during the ongoing fishing ban.
Rafiqul Islam, of Bouddhanathpur village in the upazila, said Rezwanul Haque had illegally dug a pond on a 50-bigha area of land in the northeastern corner of the reservoir. “He lures fish from the reservoir to his pond using chum. For the last few years, he has been aided by policymakers and hired goons.”
Speaking on the issue, Sultan Mahmud, Inspector of Barapukuria Coal Mine Police Investigation Centre, said: “Local fishermen have verbally informed me about the illegal fishing. I have advised them to lodge a written complaint with the Upazila Nirbahi Officer.”
When contacted, ARB Brick Kiln Owner Rezwanul Haque confirmed the allegations without any hesitation. “It’s not just me, everyone is fishing in these waters.”
Speaking on the matter, Upazila Nirbahi Officer Nasheed Kaiser Riyadh said: “Fishing of any kind during this season has been prohibited by law.”
Action would be taken against the culprits if specific written allegations were received, he added.