Ban on breeding season fishing
25,000 people thrown into hardship in KurigramManjurul Ahsan
Approximately 2,573 families, with 25,000 members, in Kurigram who earn their living through fishing ran into hardship for last two months as the government imposed a ban on inland fishing during breeding season without providing them food or cash support under its safety-net programme.
The fishermen in Kurigram upazila said that they stopped fishing in Brahmaputra, Dharla, Dudhkumar and Phukumar rivers and in
the open water bodies in the area since mid April as the upazila nirbahi officer Kazi Abed Hossain motivated them for saving the mother fish.
The Fish Protection and Conservation Act banned fishing in the breeding season from middle of April to middle of July for the protection of the mother fish of the indigenous varieties so that they could lay eggs, officials said.
The government enforces the law without caring to provide food or cash support to marginal fishermen so that they could survive the ban period.
When asked, fisheries and livestock ministry secretary Ujjal Bikash Datta told New Age that it would take time to gradually bring the poor fishermen under the social safety net umbrella during breeding season ban on fishing.
Ujjal said, ‘About two months back we sent a letter to the disaster management secretary seeking food aid for the vulnerable fishermen in Kurigram upazila.’
During the observation of the national fisheries week in 2009, prime minister Sheikh Hasina said that under its vulnerable group feeding programme the government would provide food to vulnerable fishermen who were asked not to fish in the breeding season.
The fishermen in Kurigram said that the government did not provided food or cash to the vulnerable fishermen not allowed to go fishing for last two months.
Chotku Dash, a fisherman in Panchgachhi, a village in Kurigram sadar upazila, told New Age that the UNO asked the local fishermen not to fish for three months –– from the later part of Boishakh to early Srabon to facilitate the mother fish lay eggs to increase availability of fish throughout the year.
‘Following an assurance, the UNO gave at that time that he would arrange food support from the government so that each family of fishermen would receive 30 kilograms of rice per month during the period of ban on fishing, we stopped fishing,’ he said.
‘We had no earning since then but we received no food or cash support from the government,’ said Chotku.
The UNO said that the fishermen were rightly complaining about what had happened.
An officer in the office of the deputy commissioner of Kurigram told New Age that the Food Ministry was yet to respond to the request for providing 30 kg of rice per family as ‘gratuitous relief’ under the social safety-net progrmnme of the Disaster Management and Relief Department for the months covering the ban on fishing.
Chotku said that the UNO enforced the ban on fishing giving a repeated assurance that the government relief would come soon.
He said that out of sheer disappointment the fishermen started fishing having no alternative means of survival.
The UNO apprehends that the entire initiative would fail unless the vulnerable group were provided with food support immediately.
Disaster Management and Relief Division joint secretary Mohammad Fazlul Huq said on Monday that an allotment of rice under vulnerable group feeding would be released in a day or two.
According to available statistics, out of nearly 3,50,000 people who are directly dependent on fishing in the area, 25,000 are vulnerable.
Since taking the responsibility as the UNO in Kurigram upzila in 2011, Kazi Abed Hossain launched a campaigning not to fish during the breeding season throughout the 276-square kilometre upazila having 266 villages.
In 2008, while serving Mohanganj upazila in Netrokona as its UNO he set an example by refraining 50,000 fishermen in 166 villages from fishing during the breeding season.
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