Bangladesh endeavors to save fish

Fishermen arrange fishing nets to prepare for fish catching at a river near Dhaka.

DHAKA, Bangladesh–As far as food habit is concerned, the South Asian nation of Bangladesh is traditionally identified as “Machey Bhatey Bangali” meaning Bengalis survive on fish and rice.

Fish is an essential and irreplaceable food in the rural Bangladeshi diet. Together with boiled rice, which is eaten at least twice per day, small amounts of vegetables and fish make up the typical meal for an average Bangladeshi citizen.

Rice contributed more than 80 percent of the dietary energy and protein. Fish constitute the main animal source food in poor rural households. In terms of weight of food consumed, fish ranks third after rice and vegetables.

According to official sources, Bangladesh produces almost 3.06 million metric tons of fish per year allowing a per capital consumption of about 45 gram of fish per day. During last financial year (2010-2011) Bangladesh earned more than 50 million dollars by exporting fish.

In Bangladesh, about 270 varieties of sweet water fishes are available in the floodplains and rivers, which are rich ecosystems for freshwater fish. The floodplains, which comprise over half of the country, are inundated annually during the monsoon season (June-July) providing an ideal habitat for the wide diversity of wild fish species.
However, the experts observe that naturally grown fish resources of Bangladesh are depleting fast due to overexploitation, improper management and the adverse impact of climate change.

Halda river fish breeding

A fisherman shows up a big fish he catched at a river in Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, the fishing community  in the country has been  caught  by  surprise  that  mother fishes started releasing  their  eggs earlier  this  season. 

Several hundred  fishermen with their nets and boats thronged  to  country’s carp breeding ground  along  the south-eastern  river  of  Halda  in Chittagong region last week to collect the early season spawn for hatching. 

A variety of popular fish of carp family, locally known as Rui, Katla, Mrigel and Kaliboush released eggs in the river Halda, the lone natural fish breeding sanctuary.
 
According to experts, this is an earlier occasion this year that fishes started releasing the eggs with the pre-monsoon shower accompanied by thunder storm. 

After a long wait, the fisheries experts and experienced fry-collectors observed that mother fishes released an insignificant amount of fish this time.
 
Along 20 kilometers of the Halda river, fishermen collect fertilized carp fish’s eggs during April to June almost every year for time immemorial. The collected eggs are hatched in the artificial mud-made scoop on the riverbank to produce carp fries. The fry from here are supplied to different parts of the country for aquaculture.

The egg collection period is expected to continue for two weeks as the mother fishes release eggs at least twice in the breeding season.

However, experts fear production deficit due to various natural and man-made changes in the ecology around the Halda area.
 
Different man-made and natural disasters like destruction of spawning ground by ox-bow cutting, massive quarry of sands from river bed illegally by a section of unscrupulous traders, pollution of the river by industrial waste, unplanned construction of a good number of sluice gates for irrigation, indiscriminate catching and killing of the brood fishes and finally the climate change have caused a cumulative adverse impact on the bio-diversity of the Halda.
 
According to Professor Monjurul Kibria of Zoology Department at Chittagong University, indiscriminate hunting of mother fishes, river pollution and unfavorable weather condition are the major causes of poor release of spawn this time.

Boat procession to save hilsha fry

Meanwhile, a 10-kilometer long colorful boat procession was brought out on Sunday in the tributaries of the two major river system Padma and Meghna aimed to raise awareness among the fishermen against catching of small-size hilsha, the testy fish of the Bay of Bengal region.

The procession, organised by the District Fisheries Department on the occasion of ‘Jatka Conservation Week- 2012’ concluded in a rally in the locality   where about 2,500 fishermen and businessmen were present.

The authorities hoped that the fishermen should not catch Hilsha fry during the restriction period allowing the small fry to get bigger.

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