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Monday, June 10, 2019

Boosting fish stock depriving fishermen not sustainable

THOUSANDS of commuters suffered a lot as traffic movement on the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway was halted for about two hours on Sunday when several hundred members of Matshyajibi Jele Somproday blocked the road in Sitakunda upazila demanding withdrawal of fishing ban in the Bay. The government had said that it would provide 40 kilograms of rice monthly to each of 4,14,784 fishermen's families in 42 upazilas of 12 coastal districts during ban from May 20 to July 23. But Liton Das, President of Uttar Chattarala Coastal Fisheries Cooperatives Jaldas Welfare Federation, accused the government of not arranging any alternatives for them. 'This has pushed 50,000 families of fishermen towards uncertainty,' he said.
It's simply disturbing to us that Fisheries and Livestock Ministry had imposed a 65-day strict ban on fishing in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Bay of Bengal apparently without arranging alternative livelihood of fishermen. Even if the directive is aimed at boosting Bangladesh's marine fish stock, it doesn't mean that the work would be done by depriving the poor fishermen.  
When the Ministry concerned was taking this decision at that time several hundreds fishermen of Chattogram, carrying festoons, placards and banners, staged a demonstration at the Chattogram Circuit House premises against it. However, we are not against the fish breeding or increasing fish stock in the Bay. But why not it will be taken in a sustainable way? Most of our fishermen are ultra poor, and fishing is the only source of income to them. Moreover, they have to depend on middlemen to continue their fishing business who give them loan with high interest. For that reason, they have to live in extreme poverty all the time.
So, ban on fishing is a matter of life and death to them.  Though the government had said that it would provide 40 kilograms of rice monthly to them, most of the fishermen didn't get it. We must say, the Deputy Commissioners of coastal districts should take urgent initiatives so that all the fishermen get the promised rice within shortest possible time. We also urge the government to provide financial aid to the fishermen which will help them to meet other emergency needs.