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Staff Correspondent
Hilsa fish is now recongnised as a geographical indication of Bangladesh. Even though hilsa is found in another 13 countries of the world, the fish has turned integral to the culture and history of Bangladesh.
According to data, 70 percent of the world’s total hilsa is produced in Bangladesh. This fish also contributes one percent of the country’s GDP and 12 percent of the total fish production.
Five lakh people are directly involved with hilsa fishing while 25 lakh others depend on this profession indirectly. Hence, hilsa alongside meeting the protein demand of country plays an important role in employment generation and poverty alleviation.
State Minister for Fisheries and Livestock Ashraf Ali Khan Khasru made these remarks at a press briefing after inaugurating ‘Jatka Conservation Week-2019’, aimed at creating mass awareness about preserving juvenile hilsa or ‘Jatka’, at Matsya Bhaban in the capital on Friday.
To increase the output of the national fish of the country the government imposes ban on hilsa netting in phases during the period from November to June every year.
Every year the ministry of fisheries and livestock imposes a 22-day ban from October 7, on catching hilsa in a 7,000-km breeding ground to ensure safe spawning of this popular fish during its peak breeding period.
Apart from this, for preserving the juveniles and creating adequate space for breeding, hilsa fishing is also restricted from March 1 to April 30.
Officials of the ministry concerned, coast guards and other members of law enforcing agencies also strictly monitor the measures throughout the year.
During the restriction period the government provides food goods through VGF and also creates alternative employment opportunities for ultra-poor fishermen to safeguard the fishermen, the minister informed.
This will also help establish hilsa sanctuaries at Padma, Meghna, Andharmanik, Tentulia and other coastal rivers of the country, he expressed optimism.
As per the data provided by the ministry, this year a total of 3, 95,709 families of fishermen are getting VGF assistance. Each family is getting 20 kilograms of rice.
According to the statistics, hilsa production rose to 5.17 lakh tonnes in 2017 from 2.98 lakh tonnes during 2008. The statistics further shows that during 2017-18 fiscal year hilsa production would exceed 5 lakh tonnes and in 2018-19 the production would increase by 42 percent when compared to the previous year.
For rapid growth of fish resources especially hilsa, the ministry has budgeted Tk 440.72 crore for its present 20 projects on fish. Mentionable, among the 20 projects, the department of fisheries has Tk 341.28 crore for 13 projects, Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute has Tk 34.49 crore for five projects, and Bangladesh Fishing Development Corporation has Tk 64.95 crore for two projects.