Hilsa catch declining
When it comes to hilsa, the general rule is that you pay less during the rainy season than in winter. But this year, even the incessant rains have failed to cool off the prices of the monsoon delicacy, at least in Khulna. In simple words, the gastronome's delight is no longer within the reach of the common people. Officials attribute the sky high prices of hilsa to spiralling fuel rates and hoarding by unscrupulous fish traders. Read Hilsa Ilisha: The National Fish and Silver Pride of Bangladesh "The fishermen are reeling under the impact of spiralling prices of diesel that they need to run their trawlers. Also, those hoarding the fish in refrigerators are responsible for pushing up the prices of ilish," Joydeb Pal, the district fisheries officer, told UNB. Agreed fishers. "The trawlers we use for fishing, and the trucks and mini trucks used for transportation are all diesel driven. So, the fuel price hike has directly impacted us," said Belayet Mir a fisherman from Barguna. Some fish traders, however, claimed that the prices of hilsa have gone up in the wake of the government giving 49 business units permission to export 2,400 metric tonnes of hilsa to India for the upcoming Durga puja. Read: With Hilsa catch declining, Bagerhat fishermen stare at penury Sheikh Saidul Islam, a fish trader, said, “Due to the government’s multipurpose plan, the production of hilsa has increased. But its prices vary as per the market demand."
The fishing community in Bagerhat is at its wit's end. From fishermen to traders, all are worried that the reign of the Hilsa may soon be over due to their Indian counterparts who enter Bangladeshi waters to net at the confluence of two prominent rivers -- the Pashur and the Baleshwar -- in the Bay of Bengal. This netting at the confluence is hampering the movement of the 'king of fish' that travels from the sea to the sweet river waters, according to Bagerhat fishermen. Read Hilsa Ilisha: The National Fish and Silver Pride of Bangladesh "Many of us just can't afford to venture into the sea for fishing and rely on the rivers for our livelihoods. But netting of the fecund fish at the conference of the two rivers by our Indian counterparts leaves us worried," a local fisherman said. In fact, this has hit the entire supply chain -- there's not enough supply of the Hilsa in the wholesale markets of the district. "For long, we have been demanding a ban on fishing at the conference of the rivers so that the 'king of fish' can move and breed freely in the many rivers of Bagerhat," he added. READ: 2-month ban on hilsa fishing, selling begins Tuesday