Indigenous species of freshwater fish have declined at an alarming rate in the last few years in Bhairab of Kishoreganj, known as the gateway to Haoranchal.
Although the demand has increased with the increase in population, the supply of fish has been gradually decreasing. As a result, the price of fish in the market is going beyond the reach of buyers. That is why the popular proverb ‘Bengali in fish and rice’ is only taking place in the pages of the book.
On the other hand, the region is traditionally dependent on fishing. Fishermen are being forced to live a dehumanized life as they are not able to procure the required fish.
However, in the opinion of the local fisheries department, even though the fishery resources of open water bodies i.e. rivers and canals have decreased, the cultivation of fish in closed water bodies is increasing. Even if the taste of the tongue is reduced, there will be no shortage of nutrition for the residents here.
Bhairab was once known as a fishpond along with the huge haoranchal of Kishoreganj. Numerous haor-baors, nala, khal-bile including Bairam, Kailash, Kali Baush, Chital, Nanin, Vachan, Gaora, Gagla, Pabda, Bagai, Rida ,,,,,,,, There was easy availability and abundance of 270 species of freshwater fish including Ax fish, Pan fish, Masul fish, Coral fish, Titpunti, Kachchi. The fish was appreciated outside the country as it was very tasty to eat. But as time goes on, there is a shortage of fish stocks here. In the meantime, many species of fish have become extinct. Many are on the verge of extinction.
According to the local fishermen, at present one-fourth of the fish are not in the rivers, canals and beels as compared to the past. So they can’t hunt for more than two hundred rupees even if they hunt all day. And because there are no fish, their fishing boats are lazy tied to the house dock all day long. Besides, at this unbearable market price of commodities, they are spending their days with their families. The fishermen also said that they are engaged in this profession as there is no other way.
According to the general fishermen and the affluent society, one of the reasons for the decline in fish in the rivers is the untimely arrival of water in the river, a class of greedy and unscrupulous fish traders and fishermen killing pona fish, hunting all kinds of fish with illegal nets. In addition, there are numerous human and natural causes, including waterlogging, excessive use of pesticides on agricultural land, climate change, mill wastes, loss of fish habitat, and fishing with irrigation.
Abu Kalam, Ismail, Akhter Mia, Mamun, Renu Mia, Haque Mia, Alamgir Mia, Qasim Mia, Ramzan Mia and many others from Kalipur village of Bhairab said that at one time they used to fish from the beel by diving in addition to nets and fishing rods. It was seen that the fish traders would not buy the fish which was imported a little more in the fish market so they would throw it in the river. However, at that time, because the price of fish was low and fish was imported more, there was fish in everyone’s house. But now that day is no more, the smell of fish is not easily found, let alone fish.
Librandra, Suresh Barman, Tarani Barman and Arun Chandra Barman of Nayahati village, and Jalal Uddin, Sadir Mia, Harlal Das and Aritra Lal Das of Maheshpur said they had seen fish floating on the water in their childhood. Now that scene does not even float in the imagination.
They also said that even 15-20 years ago, if one hour and a half the net was pulled, one and a half ounces of fish would be caught in the net. Now day and night it is not even a quarter. In addition, the influential Mahals hunt fish in the middle of the river with kheu and dams and to get nets. Fishermen can’t even go near them.
Fish traders say they have been involved in the fish business for 40-45 years each. Such famine of fish has never been seen in this region. As the days go by, the domestic fish crisis is getting more and more intense. There are no fish in the water. Fish imports are low in the market. One-fourth of the local fish is no longer imported than before. No business. So there is no profit. As a result, fish traders are not doing well day and night. They also said that the supply of native fish has decreased due to the extinction of many species of fish from rivers, canals and beels. However, due to the import of farmed fish, the middle and lower castes of the area can eat some fish.
Bhairab Upazila has 4 rivers, 16 beels and 1,450 small and large ponds where 720.20 metric tons of fish is produced. Bhairab Senior Upazila Fisheries Officer Md. Latifur Rahman.
He further said that Bhairab has a connection with fish as Bhairab Haor and river are rain fed areas. However, the natural fish in the haors or rivers that are here can be said to be a bit lacking for various reasons. In this regard, officially we have taken various activities for the prosperity through the Department of Fisheries. And we have a sanctuary and sent proposals for two more sanctuaries. If this proposal is successful then hopefully we will get good results.