Hundreds of tons of native species of fish are caught from Chalanbeel every year. Dried fishes are processed from these fish. Due to the huge demand for these freshwater dried fish, the country's needs are met.
Dried fish from Chalanbeel are exported to India, the Middle East and the United States. But due to climate change, construction of dams, construction of infrastructure including roads by occupying canals and short rains, the habitat of native fish is declining. At the same time fish production has also decreased. As a result, the tradition making dried fish is declining rapidly in the region.
Researchers say that even in the eighties of the last century, 124 species of fish were found in Chalanbeel. Already 28 to 30 species of fish are not found any more in this water body. There are still different species of fish including koi, putti, Tengra, Shoal, Boal, Taki, Guchi, Baim and many more species of native carp fishes.
Based on these freshwater fish, more than five hundred dry fish huts were built in different places in 9 upazilas of Chalanbeel. Due to the decrease in fish production, it came down to more than one and a half hundred last year. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide, the business of dried fish exporting has halted almost completely. Thus, many business owners are leaving this business which once fulfilled the need of the entire country.
According to the traders of dried fish, it costs Tk 10 to 15 lakh to make a shed. They have to buy fish at higher prices as they do not get the demand. On the other hand, they are repeatedly facing losses as they are not able to sell dried fishes at the desired price due to the syndicate at Syedpur. At the moment, only if the government gives them incentives and low interest loans, they will be able to sustain their business.
In the face of the fish crisis and losses, the owners of the huts are winding down their businesses and reducing the wages of the workers. Some workers are not getting wages for months. The owners of the flats said that it is not possible to overcome this crisis if the business is not dynamic. Tarash Upazila Fisheries Officer Md Mashgul Azad said, Chalanbeel is a great source of high quality fresh water dried fish. Officially, there is an arrangement to give a loan of up to Tk 5 lakh 61 thousand to the owners of the dry attic. At the same time, the workers are given training every year.
However, if fish production is not increased naturally in Chalanbeel region, freshwater fish will be lost in the near future. Researchers have said that there is an integrated initiative for this.
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Officials of district fisheries department said that initiatives are being taken to reduce pollution in the Chalanbeel region in order to increase the fish production. If the production of the fishes increases, the dried fish business will surely see a boost. As the global lockdown situation is somewhat de-escalating, the trade and import-export between countries have started and this is increasing gradually. So owners of dried fish business in the area can surely hop in the boat of export if fish production rate increases.