Thursday, February 20, 2020 | ePaper

Fatal fishing in the Bay

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FIVE fishermen jumped into the water without any lifesaving equipment when their trawler capsized in the Bay near Sonar Char under Rangabali upazila on September 15. Another trawler rescued four of them while the body of Tapos Mondol, 26, of Char Agostee under Rangabali upazila, was found in Shibchar area after two days. According to media reports, Mohipur and Alipur fish landing stations in Kalapara upazila, have many trawlers without sufficient lifesaving measures. Only five life jackets and two buoys were found in a trawler named Mira-2 where 20 fishermen work.
These fishermen work amid risk as there are not sufficient lifesaving instruments. They remain disconnected from their families and also trawler owners as there is no mobile network in the Bay. This is due to the fact that trawler owners ignore their demand for sufficient safety measures. Nobody inspect their trawlers to see the arrangements. However trawler owners state that empty plastic containers are preferable to life jackets and buoys as lifesaving equipment and fisherman can easily use it because life jackets and buoys do not last for more than six months. They state that they are trying their best to provide suitable lifesaving tools for fishermen. But a very few trawlers keep only four to five plastic containers each, which is too insufficient.
 Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority has the power to inspect the trawlers and they have to monitor these. But they don't do it. This gross neglect in their duty is the reason why over 85,000 fishermen must depend on luck, chance, and their ability to navigate rivers to survive if their trawlers capsize in the Bay of Bengal. There must be a fine balance between ensuring the economic feasibility of shipping and the lives of the fishermen. Only strong regulatory mechanisms which are implemented properly can force the trawler owners to keep life saving equipment which will ensure that the fishermen have a modicum of safety if anything were to go wrong with their trawlers. Money unfortunately remains more important to the trawler owners than the lives of the fishermen. Implement of strong regulations is a must to save the lives of fishermen.

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