A large number of people dependent on fishing in the haor areas of Moulvibazar and Sylhet districts are passing days amid hardship as fishes are not available even during the ongoing monsoon.
Earlier in mid-April this year, different species of fishes saw massive death when half ripe paddy in vast fields rot due to early flooding in the haor areas, said fisheries officials, farmers and fishermen.
“I have been engaged in catching fish since my childhood but never experienced such crisis of fishes in the haor,” said Sekhar, an elderly fisherman of Mirsankar village in Kulaura upazila of Moulvibazar.
“Different big fishes like rui, ayir, katla and small fishes including pabda, shrimp, chela, chapila etc are usually available during this time of the year, but they have become rare this season. It has become difficult to maintain the family as I can hardly catch fishes worth Tk 100 a day,” he added.
“I used to earn a lot by catching huge fishes in this season every year. But the situation is different now. My six-member family is passing days amid food crisis,” said Modon Biswas, a fisherman of Sadipur village under Kulaura upazila.
“Most of the people, who depend on fishing in the haor area for livelihood, do not have experience of other works. And so, they are passing their days without any work,” Charan Biswas, 46, a fisherman of Chandpur village in Fenchuganj upazila of Sylhet said.
“I have already borrowed a lot to bear family expenditure including children’s schooling cost,” he said.
Many fishermen in Moulvibazar and Sylhet districts have similar tales to tell.
“After the relief minister’s announcement during his visit at Badeghat, we the card holder fishermen got hope. But we are still waiting for aid as no instructions have been given about how many fishermen will be provided food aid,” said Kutub Uddin of Badeghat area.
Different species of fishes including puti, tengra, veda, bailla, boal, pabda and rui started dying along with rotting of half ripe paddy in the haor in mid-April this year, said Md Sultan Mahmud, senior fisheries officer of Kulaura.
The acidity in the haor water had risen while insecticides used in the crop fields have mixed with the water, causing death of the fishes, he said.
There are 13,400 card holder fishermen in Moulvibazar but no arrangement has been made to give relief for those suffering due to the fish crisis in haor areas, said Abdul Kuddus Akanda, district fisheries officer.
Sources of District Relief and Rehabilitation Office in Sylhet said 55,000 VGF card holders in the district are being provided food assistance for three months but there are no separate instructions to provide relief for fishermen.