The owners of fish hatcheries in Jashore are in huge trouble and counting Tk50 crore in losses as they cannot go for production in the peak season due to the shutdown enforced to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infection.
The hatchery owners and traders have said that the entrepreneurs of the fish renu (spawn) production sector are counting huge losses as coronavirus forced them to close hatcheries due to labor crisis, falling prices of fries and rising electricity prices.
However, 34 fish hatcheries in the district have resumed production after the closure for more than two months because of the coronavirus outbreak. The traders have stopped production since March 28 for Covid-19 shutdown. March-August is the peak season for fish fry production.
Jashore District Fisheries Hatchery Owners Association President Firoz Khan said, "We produced 2 lakh kilogrammes of spawns in Jashore last year. The target has been slashed by half this year which caused a financial loss of Tk50 crore to the hatchery owners."
This year the target for fry production has been set at 1.5 lakh killogrammes. About 2.60 lakh kg of fish fry was produced in 34 hatcheries of Chanchra Matsyapalli last year.
"Hatcheries have resumed production amid concern over the electricity bill and price hike of fry's hormone injection PG," District Fisheries Hatchery Owners Association President Firoz Khan said.
"Earlier we used to pay electricity bills at the agricultural rate. Now we have to pay at the industrial rate which has doubled the cost of fry production. Additionally, fish hormone injection 'PG' used to be Tk8 per piece, which is now Tk40."
Zahidur Rahman Goldar, general secretary of the association, said, "Excessive heat disrupts spawn production. We couldn't produce spawn in peak season due to Covid-19 which could affect 50,000 people involved in the sector."
Apart from hatcheries, there are 5/6 thousand nurseries for nursing fish fries in Jashore.
According to the District Fisheries Office, 60 percent of the total fry demand of the country is supplied from Jashore. Spawns are being produced in 34 hatcheries in the district. Of this, spawn production carp varieties is 64.86 tonnes while Pangash spawn is 3.62 tonnes and Shing, Magur, Pabda and Gulsa spawns are 0.85 tonnes.
The demand for renu (spawn) in the district is 15.23 tonnes and the remaining 49.63 tonnes were sent to different parts of the country.
There are a total of 51 baors in the 18,084 hectares area of Jessore. Basically, fishes are being produced from these baors.
Hatcheries in Jashore produce spawns of Rui, Katol, Mrigel, Silver Carp, Grass Carp, Bighead, Thai Sarputi, Mirror Carp, Chital, Ayer, Tilapia, Monosex Tilapia, Shing, Kai, Thai Kai, Pangas etc.
Two lakh people of the district earn their livelihood through fish production, farming and related occupations.
Ahidullah Lulu, a fish farmer in the area, said that after the closure of production due to shutdown, spawns would not be produced in that way as its demand would decrease in the coming days.
Asked, Jashore District Fisheries Officer Anisur Rahman said, "If the production of spawn is stopped for a long time, it will have an impact on the market of the country. So, we have asked the hatchery owners to produce spawn maintaining social distance. They have started production."