Dhaka, September 14, 2019. Speakers at a seminar held in Dhaka today, recommended providing financial assistance to fishermen during the ban on fishing in the Bay of Bengal and Hilsha sanctuaries. They expressed the need to ensure alternative income of the fishermen so that the fishermen could run the family even if they could not catch fish. The seminar titled ‘ 65 days ban on fishing in the Bay of Bengal: Impact on the coastal fishermen’ was organized by COAST Trust and Bangladesh Fishworkers’ Alliance at the CIRDAP Auditorium with the support of Manusher Jonno Foundation and Danish Institute for Human Rights.
Minister of Fisheries and Livestock Md. Ashraf Ali Khan Khasru MP was present as the Chief Guest at the seminar and it was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director of COAST Trust. Abu Sayed Md. Rashedul Haque, Director General of the Depertment of Fisheries was present as the Special Guest, Shaheen Anam, Executiove Director of Manusher Jonnon Foundation and Dr. Md. Abu Hassanat, Director (Marine Fisheries) were present as Special Speakers.. Md. Mujibul Haque Munir, Assistant Director of COAST Trust, presented the keynote at the seminar. Among others Shawkat Kabir Chowdhury, Assistant Director of the Department of Fisheries, Rafiqul Islam, Executive Director of Dwip Unnayan Aangstha, Hafizul Islam of Public Service International, Badrul Alam of the Bangladesh Krishak Federation and a number of fishermen from Barguna, Cox’s Bazar, Bhola spoke at the occasion.
Md. Mujibnul Haque Munir said that, the ban on protection of fishery resources, has increased the production of hilsa. However, many fishermen, who are marginalized in this area, have to struggle to run their families sicne they have no or very limited alternative income. The government is providing 40 kgs of rice per month to about 4 lakh registered fishermen, but many fishermen are still out of registration. Instead of rice, cash financial support can be more effective.
Cox’s Bazar Fisheries Workers Alliance leader Mizanur Rahman Bahadur said, “We welcome ban on fishing activities to increase the wealth of the country, but poor fishermen families need to be provided with cash assistance to properly run their families.” Bhola Trawler Owners Association President Nurul Islam said, “Even if we comply with the ban, Indian fishermen are coming to our area during the ban period and catching a lot of Hilsha. Therefore, the ban period must be determined considering same period of neighboring countries. Barguna Fisheries Worker’s Representative SM Zakir Hossain said, many people got fishermen cards despite not being real fishermen. Fisher cards must be provided to he actual fishermen.
Rafiqul Islam of the Dwip Unnayan Sangstha said, a minimum wage should be made for fishermen, especially for fish workers.
Dr. Md. Abu Hasnat said, we all have to come forward to get the benefit of a huge sea victory. Bangladesh is getting the benefits of ban in the protection of the Hilsa, the government is working on how to make this ban more successful by involving marginal fishermen.
Abu Sayed Md. Rashidul Haque said, the ban is imposed for the fishermen’s interests. Because if fisheries resources increased, the fishermen will benefit first. We have been researching how to use the sea resources to change the destiny of the country, trying to use modern technology.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said, vocational education programs for the children of the fishermen is a much needed, it will open the door to alternative income and employment.
Shaheen Anam said, “We have to protect the fisheries resources, we have to increase our resources. Besides, we have to ensure that, everyone is involved in the planning to increase this wealth, so that no one is left behind. Only then can this initiative be sustainable.
Md. Ashraf Ali Khan Khasru MP said, that although the production of Hilsa in many countries of the world is decreasing, it is increasing in Bangladesh. To increase this production, we have to keep the Bay of Bengal safe and free of pollution. The sea is being polluted due to about 60,000 ships operating in the sea, this a major threat to our fisheries.
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