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Wrong timing of reproductive season: 70pc hilsas carry eggs

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Wrong timing of reproductive season: 70pc hilsas carry eggs

Bidhan Sarker, The Report:

After the 15-day ban on fishing the fishermen are now catching a lot of hilsa fishes. But 70 percent of the fishes carry eggs. So, the fishermen have raised questions over the timing of the drive.

The fishermen say if the drive was delayed by 15 days more hilsa fishes could lay eggs.

Because of the climate change the hilsa catching season was moved forward from the Bangla month of Jaistha to the end of Asharh. So, the fishermen are hoping that they will be able to catch hilsas in abundance until the end of Kartik.

The fishermen were waiting for this after the adverse weather condition and robbers in marauding mood while the hilsas were not caught in abundance even in the peak season. During the period from Ashwin 10 to Aswin 24 there was a ban on hilsa fishing as this is termed the peak reproductive season for hilsas. With the ban now over, the availability of hilsas at the wholesale markets in Barisal increased to a great extent.

Fisherman Md Babul Mia from Bauphal told The Report, “Almost all the fishes caught here are carrying eggs. Actually the reproductive season was announced far ahead of time. So, all the fishes could not lay eggs.”

Md Liton Hawlader, who does the job of cutting hilsa fishes into pieces at the wholesale market, told The Report, “70 percent of the fishes I’ve cut here carried eggs. If the ban was delayed by 15 days all the fishes could lay eggs.”

However, Md Helal Uddin from Nalchar was very happy as they were coming up with big catches after a long time. He said after a long wait the hilsas could be netted in a big volume. He has his own fishing boat. He took it from a money lender at a cost of Tk 30,000. He had been very concerned so far. But now he is happy as the hilsas are being caught in a big volume. He is expecting bigger hilsa catshes during the upcoming Amabashya.

Though the fishermen are happy, wholesaler Yar Hossain said the other species of fishes started arriving in the market. So, alongside the abundant supply of hilsas the market prices also fell and they were counting losses.

Fishermen said about 800 maunds of hilsas were supplied to the fish hub on October 10 last. The small size hilsas were priced at Tk 8,500 per maund, the hilsas measuring 300gm to 400gm were priced at Tk 14,000. Hilsas measuring 400gm to 500gm were selling at Tk 20,000, exportable hilsas measuring 600-900gm Tk 28,000, hilsas weighing 1kg Tk 37,000 and those weighing higher than that Tk 42,000. As the volume of hilsa catch increased the next day, the prices fell by Tk 1,000-3,000 per kg.

The wholesalers buying hilsas from the fishermen were incurring losses. So, the supply of fishes at the hub was lower on Monday. On the other hand, with the fall in supplies the prices also increased on the day.

District Fish Wholesalers’ Association President Ajit Kanti Das told The Report, “As there was a ban on catching hilsas in Bangladesh, the fishermen here did not go for fishing. So, the Indian fishermen are now netting a higher volume of hilsas. The reason is that as the Bangladeshis did not catch the fishes, a portion of the fishes went into the Indian waters through the Khari area in Chalna.”

Ajit Kanti Das also said, “I talked to the Paschimbanga Export-Import Association president Atul Das. He said they had no space to keep their hilsas. The small size hilsas are selling at Tk 186 per kg at Barisal. In Pashchimbanga the price is 100 rupees. So, the ban on hilsa fishing should be imposed towards the end of Ashwin.”

On the other hand, during the ban the ice factories snapped their power lines. So, when the ban was over on October 9, the ice factories could not supply the ice. So, it took three days for the fishermen to go out into the sea with ice. This caused financial losses to them.

About the proposal of the fishermen and the traders on delaying the ban on hilsa fishing, Hilsa Research Project director and high science official Md Anisur Rahman told The Report, “We will look into the matter. The hilsas usually lay eggs throughout the year. But the full moon in the month of Ashwin is deemed the peak season for hilsas to lay eggs. So, the ban has been imposed for this particular period. This time, our survey reveals that 35-37 percent hilsas laid eggs during the period. It would be better, if the figure hit 40 percent. Only in 2013 about 41 percent hilsas laid eggs. But another period for the hilsas to lay eggs is the upcoming Amabasya.”

He also said, “We will look into the proposal of the fishermen about delaying the timing of the reproductive season of the hilsas. Based on the research findings the season will be delayed, if needed.”

Ends/thereport24.com/AR/Oct 13, 2015