Excitement is running high across the banks of the Halda river as brood fishes of different indigenous sweet water species have started releasing sample eggs this breeding season. Mother fishes usually release eggs on a trial basis at first, which are called sample eggs, according to the Halda River Research Laboratory.
Around 1,300 fishermen in 500 small boats are collecting the eggs from a 12 to 14 kilometres area of the river, stretching from Hathazari to Rauzan, wearing a festive look in and around the area with the pulsating of egg collectors. Different indigenous species, including ruhi, katol, mrigel and kalbaush, release eggs in the Halda river, one of the major natural breeding grounds of fishes in South Asia.
“Fishermen have been collecting the eggs since early morning on Saturday. The mother fishes are now releasing sample eggs. And we are expecting that the mother fishes will start releasing eggs in full swing within a week if moderate to heavy rainfalls or thundershowers accompanied by temporary gusty or squally wind continue,” Mohammad Shah Alam, zonal manager, Halda River Project, told Bangladesh Post on Saturday.
As soon as the mother fishes released the eggs on Saturday, several hundred spawn collectors began collecting sample eggs from different points of the river.
He said at the beginning of April, indigenous fish species migrate from different rivers to the Halda to release eggs. “But the whole affair of egg release completely depends on nature. If heavy rain and thundershowers occur along with onrush of hilly water during the full or dark moon, mother fishes release eggs in the river,” he said.
He added as there was not sufficient rain in April, mother fishes did not release eggs. “The mother fishes finally start spawning when they find the aquatic environment congenial for laying eggs,” he said. According to the officials of Halda River Project, separate of their teams are working to take care of the eggs in the hatcheries.
The amount of eggs has increased this year as the weather is favourable. Besides, the government has taken various initiatives and awareness programmes, and provided incentives to the fishermen under the supervision of the Prime Minister’s Office to boost the egg production. According to the fishermen, experts and scientists of Halda River Research Laboratory, different natural factors like temperature of water, strong currents and thunderstorms create a congenial atmosphere for the mother fishes to lay eggs in the river.
As the new moon is likely to appear on June 4, it will be the high time for mother fishes to release eggs if thunderstorms accompanied by downpour occur and the river experiences onrush of hilly water. Fishermen in association with the Halda River Research Laboratory and district administration have already prepared 400 small ponds across the banks of the river to store the eggs.
Besides, the district administration has renovated about 50 small ponds. Halda River is a river in south-eastern Bangladesh. It originates at the Badnatali Hill Ranges in Ramgarh Upazila in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, flows through Fatikchhari Upazila, Bhujpur Thana, Hathazari Upazila, Raozan Upazila and Chandgaon Thana of the Chattogram metropolitan city, and falls into the Karnaphuli River.
The 81-kilometre river has a very turbulent tributary. The river is famous for breeding pure indigenous species of fishes and it is the only natural breeding field of indigenous species of fishes in Bangladesh, perhaps in South Asia. These species of fishes release their eggs at a certain period of the monsoon and spawn collectors collect them through a unique method and sell them among the fish farmers.
The fertilised eggs soon start to develop fish fry within 96 hours and one kilogram of fish fry is sold at Tk 40 thousands. According to the Halda River Research Laboratory, fishermen collected 22,680 kilogram eggs last year. And about 378 kilograms of fish fries were developed from the eggs. The fishermen earned Tk 15 crore by selling the fish fries.