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Peak fishing season of Hilsa fish in Bangladesh

Xinhua
11 Sep 2021, 12:30 GMT+10

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Bangladesh currently produces 86 percent of the world's total Hilsas, according to a study. Huge catches of Hilsas, Bangladesh's national fish, are being netted in marine and coastal areas across the country especially in Chandpur during the ongoing peak fishing season.

CHANDPUR, Bangladesh, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- Thanks to a good harvest and high prices, fishermen in Bangladesh's Chandpur district where the world's most famous silvery transboundary Hilsa fish comes from are now all smiles.

Huge catches of Hilsas, Bangladesh's national fish, are being netted in marine and coastal areas across Bangladesh especially in Chandpur, some 115 km southeast of Dhaka, during the ongoing peak fishing season.

Chandpur is considered one of the biggest trading hubs of Hilsas in Bangladesh mainly due to the skyrocketing popularity of Hilsas from Padma River, one of the three major rivers in the country.

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Wholesalers in the market said they are very happy with plenty of Padma's Hilsas which fetch home some extra money for them.

Noor Alam, who has been doing fish trading for about 20 years, said the fishing season starts from May after good fishing, said Alam, proprietor of Saju Fish.

"At that time I do fairly good business. I make profit by doing business," he said.

According to the trader, this is a seasonal business that runs for four to five months.

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Abdul Bari Jamadar Manik, the president of Chandpur Matsya (fish) Banik (businessmen) Samiti (association) Limited said this fish landing station at Chandpur is about 200 to 250 years old.

"About four or five thousand people are involved with this Hilsa trading (here) in Chandpur," said Manik. "Hilsa is very important for the local economy of Chandpur and for the economy of entire Bangladesh," he added.

According to a recent study by the international fisheries organization WorldFish, Bangladesh currently produces 86 percent of the world's total Hilsas followed by India, Myanmar, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Pakistan.

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According to the report, Hilsa production in Bangladesh in recent years has increased remarkably following the measures including setting up of Hilsa sanctuaries in various rivers.

Hilsas move from the Bay of Bengal to Bangladesh rivers including the Padma and the Meghna for spawning.

No matter how favorable the environment is in other rivers or reservoirs, Hilsas would return to their birthplaces where their mothers had laid the eggs and they grew up as spawns, the study revealed.

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"Hilsa is Bangladesh's one of the flagship fish species," said Md Anisur Rahman, the chief scientific officer and Hilsa researcher at Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute Riverine Station Chandpur.

Rahman who started researching Hilsa in 1988 said its contribution to the GDP of Bangladesh is more than 1 percent.

He said Hilsa is the kingfish in Bangladesh and it has secured recognition as the geographical indication (GI) product of Bangladesh in 2017.

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He said many countries including China have expressed interest to join Bangladesh's research efforts to increase Hilsa production, and a Japanese team wants to work on it after a visit.

He said steps are underway to create more byproducts for value addition.

"What more can be done about value additions and livelihoods are under research and the field of research is growing," he said.

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Traders say the ones meant for export weighing 1 kg to 1,200 grams are now selling for around 40,000 takas (about 465 U.S. dollars) per maund in the market.

"We, the people of Chandpur, are known for Hilsa. We're doing Hilsa business (for generations) and earning our livelihoods by doing this," Noor Alam said.

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