The prices of fish have soared in Khulna as supplies have declined sharply recently. This comes as a blow to both the fishermen and the consumers.
Immediate steps are needed to protect the traditional profession of the fishermen in the greater national interest, said convener of Khulna Nagorik Samaj and freedom fighter Advocate AFM Mohsin.
This correspondent visited the Mistripara Kitchen Market, KCC Shandha Bazar, Sheikhpara Kitchen Market, KDA New Market adjacent Kitchen Market on Friday and saw that fishes were being sold at high prices. However, some fishes are available in those markets and some are not available at all.
Prices of fishes that are available in the markets increased by 15 to 20 per cent per kg on an average during a few weeks. Hilsha is selling at Tk 600 to Tk 1,000 a kg. Ruhi at Tk 200 to Tk 300 a kg, Katla at Tk 250 to Tk 350 a kg, Telapia at Tk 120 to Tk 160 a kg and big sized Pangash at Tk 150 to Tk 200 a kg, shrimp at Tk 300 to Tk 400 per kg.
The middle class families are quite unable to purchase these types of fishes, not to speak of the poor. Small fishes, including, Mola, Puti, Kagchi, Chela and small Tengra are also selling at high prices.
A small portion (250 grams) of any of these small fishes is selling at Tk 60 to Tk 100. When asked a day-labourer named Krishna Pada Das of Shibbari Moar labour market under Sonadanga police station in the city said that he had dropped fish item from his family’s eating menu as the fish prices have already gone beyond his purchasing capacity. When asked about the causes of fish scarcity, Rahmat Ali, a fish vendor of Mistripara Bazar under sadar thana in Khulna city said that ponds, beels, marshes, and even rivers are drying up seriously in the district. He added that fish scarcity would be more acute in the district in future if re-excavation programme is not taken up soon at private or government level.
Fazlul Haque Majhi, a fisherman of Hilsha and Anowar Hossain of Rupsha fish landing terminal in the city said they each spend Tk 5,000 a day for sailing into the river for catching fish. “But we return home with a catch worth only Tk 2,000 to Tk 3,000 a day,” one said. They have expressed their concerned about their future as they are preparing to buy new nets and repair trawlers for catching fish by borrowing lakhs of taka from lenders at high rate of interest. District Fisheries Officer of Khulna Md Abu Sayeed said ‘Bangladesh Post’ that drastic fall in water level in these sources of water bodies, inadequate rainfall and heavy siltation contributed to the decline of different varieties of indigenous fish.
Application of chemical fertilizers and harmful pesticides on agriculture- lands along the rivers, reservoirs, derelict ponds and water bodies is also causing destruction of fish production.
It is mentionable that out of these uncultivated ponds, 70 per cent are under joint ownership due to inheritance and hence more cares and the ponds gradually got silted and dried up, he added.
In the past there were many rivers, canals, beels, reservoirs, ponds in the district. The water bodies abounded with different varieties of fish in the bay gone years. Most of them disappeared gradually due to siltation, lack of dredging programmed and maintained.
Due to continued siltation and random lifting of water for irrigation purpose, most of the water bodies dried up even before the advent of summer season.
Besides, most of the marshy lands have turned into cultivable lands for IRRI and Boro crops. As a result, breeding of fish is decreasing alarmingly. Moreover, a huge quantity of fish fry is being washed away by flood water every year, Sayeed further said.