Wed, 22 May 2024
The Daily Ittefaq

Fish larvae under threat in the Sundarbans

Update : 10 Apr 2023, 10:50

Rampant illegal fishing continues in the Sundarbans, posing a great threat to aquatic life in the only mangrove forest in Bangladesh.

The larvae or fry collectors destroy huge numbers of larvae of different fish species for collecting of shrimp larvae in the estuaries of the Bay of Bengal and rivers and canals of the Sundarbans.

Fisheries in the Sundarbans are declining as a result of unchecked use of nets with small mesh sizes. It also destroys the traditional breeding points of shrimps. 

Hundreds of fishermen with boats and trawlers are freely fishing for shrimps with small mesh behundi nets in every new moon and full moon. Billions of other fish fry are dying for this. The resurgence of illegal fishing activities was confirmed by local fishermen of Sundarbans.

A number of fishermen, who requested anonymity, said that hundreds of people catch larvae using a specialized fishing net (locally known as behundi jaal) from Patharghata of Barguna, Charduani, Padma and Rajapur of Sarankhola, Sonatala, Khuriakhali villages and other areas of the sea estuary and Kalamia Bharani of Sundarbans to the Shyala river estuary, Katka, Dudhmukhi river estuary, Dublarchar, Dimerchar, Shukpara, Badamtala, Chaprakhali and other rivers and estuaries of canals in the forest.

They also said that the larvae of different species are also getting stuck in the net with shrimp. The unscrupulous fishermen  pull the nets and throw the dead larvae into the river, leaving only the shrimp. Every year from February to June, such fishermen destroy the fisheries of the Sundarban in the name of catching shirmp.

In order to preserve the biodiversity of the rivers, Bangladesh government  issued a notification prohibiting the gathering of shrimp, eggs, and other shellfish from coastal areas from September 21, 2000. 

Locals demand that the government need to take stern action against the illegal fishing for ensuring the safe breeding of fishery resources in the Sundarbans. Special drives will have to be launched immediately to stop such illegal practice.

According to Saiful Islam Khokon, vice president of the Bangladesh Fishing Trawler Owners Association and fish merchant of Sharankhola, "the fishing resources of the Sundarbans are being destroyed due to free-style fishing of shrimp in the free-style prohibited trawler nets in the Baleswar River, sea estuary, and Sundarban River. A class of unscrupulous forest guards from the forest department are involved with this. If this continues in the near future, there will be no fish in the rivers and streams in this region, including the Sundarbans."

"I'm not aware of the news of illegal fishing with banned behundi nets. I will take necessary action after investigating the matter," said Rana Dev, new Range Officer (ACF) of Sharankhola Range in East Sundarban Division.

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