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Sundarbans reopen for tourists, fishermen today

Published : 31 Aug 2023 10:12 PM
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After nearly three months of closure, the Forest Department is reopening the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest and a Unesco world heritage site, on today.

Starting from this day, fishing activities and the entry of tourists with appropriate passes will resume, Forest Department sources said. 

Forest-dependent fishermen, tour operators, launches and boatmen are making preparations in advance of the reopening.

The Forest Department announced a three-month ban on tourism and fishing in the Sundarbans starting June 1. 

These three months are the breeding season for most species of fish and hence the department enforced the ban. The ban is effective till Thursday.

However, Nazmul Azam David, general secretary of the Tour Operators Association of Sundarbans (TOAS), said that even though tourists were banned from entering the Sundarbans, they still visited Karamjal.

“The ban did not benefit the Sundarbans, and due to the three-month tourism halt, significant financial losses occurred,” he mentioned.

“Many impoverished tourism workers, burdened with debts and bank loans, faced unemployment,” he said. 

David further noted that although the Sundarbans will reopen on Friday, it will not significantly benefit tourism business owners as it is the off-season for tourism. 

“The tourism season in the Sundarbans typically spans from November to March,” he added. 

Sheikh Mahbub Hasan, Sarankhola range assistant conservator of forests (ACF) of the Eastern Forest Department of the Sundarbans, said that after the three-month ban, fishing and tourist movement permissions (passes) will be issued, starting Friday.

Every year, the Forest Department imposes a ban on tourism and fishing in the Sundarbans to help in the breeding and preservation of fish.

ln the 6,017 square km of Bangladesh’s part of Sundarbans, there are 210 species of white fish, 24 species of shrimp, 14 species of crabs, 43 species of mollusca and one species of lobster.