Shrimp farmers in Bagerhat have been left reeling by the storm surge, and aftermath and excessive drought while the price of shrimp continues to fall due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic.
At present, thousands of enclosures in different areas of Bagerhat are submerged due to excessive rains and abnormal tides and various species of fish including shrimp worth crores have been washed away.
Earlier, during cyclones Amphan and Bulbul, the same thing happened which is why farmers are losing interest in shrimp farming.
According to the district fisheries division, at least Tk 23 crore has been lost in 19,301 shrimp enclosures in Bagerhat district due to those calamities while farmers say the amount of damage is several times more.
In different areas of Rampal and Chitalmari upazilas of Bagerhat district, fences of enclosures have broken down and become one with the other ones. The work of raising the fence of some enclosures is going on and although the rivers and canals have started receding, there is still excess water in many areas.
Shrimp farmers say water has flowed over the enclosure at a height of one and a half to two feet in some places.
A shrimp farmer from Rampal, Abdul Wahab, said he has shrimp enclosures on 35 acres of land. He has been in the fishing business for 30 years.
“Shrimp farming is facing one disaster after another due to storm surge, excess water, drought, and viruses. Cyclones Amphan, Bulbul and the latest abnormal tidal waters have caused extensive damage to my enclosures," he said.
He noted that, in addition to these hazards, the price of shrimp has come down due to Covid-19 pandemic and there are almost no buyers of shrimp in the market at present.
Yusuf Sheikh, another farmer, said all the fish of his 16 bigha enclosure have been washed away. “Three times in nine months, the enclosures sank under excessive water.”
Although every time after a disaster he builds enclosures with new vigor this time he could not overcome the loss and has lost interest in fish farming.
Other farmers of the area demanded financial assistance from the government.
According to the Bagerhat District Fisheries Office, 6,753 fish enclosures in Bagerhat district have been submerged due to recent heavy rains and abnormal tidal waters, causing a loss of Tk 14.26 crore. In May, 5,124 fish enclosures sank in the Amphan tidal wave, causing a loss of Tk 5.71 crore.
Bagerhat District Fisheries Officer Khaled Kanak said 19,301 fish enclosures submerged in three phases in different areas of Bagerhat costing Tk 23 crore in damages.
Bagerhat District Shrimp Farmers' Association President Fakir Mahitul Islam Sumon said farmers are losing their livelihoods because of one disaster after another. “Shrimp farmers have lost hundreds of crores of taka in three phases from November last year to August this year.”
He demanded financial assistance from the affected farmers to keep the shrimp industry alive.
According to the Fisheries division, there are 76,730 fish enclosures on 68,165 acres of land in Bagerhat district and 65,804 people are involved in shrimp farming.