Bagerhat marine fish landing centre, locally known as KB Bazar, is now thronged by fish traders from different districts and local consumers for imported marine frozen fish due to the ongoing fishing ban in the Bay of Bengal.
The 65-day ban is going to end on 20 July.
According to the wholesalers of the fish landing centre, marine fish imported from Oman, Japan, and China is sold at the market throughout the year but the demand for fish increases sharply during the restriction on fishing.
Currently, about 25 to 27 tonnes of fish is being sold every day on average. However, during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic, around 20 to 22 tonnes of fish was sold every day on average, said Abed Ali, president of the Bagerhat KB Bazar Fish Landing Centre Wholesalers' Association.
In a recent visit to the KB Bazar, the market of the fish landing centre on the banks of the River Daratana in Bagerhat, this correspondent saw a variety of packaged marine fish being unloaded from freezing vehicles. Workers were keeping the packets of fish in front of different fish warehouses in the market.
Fish traders from different areas were bargaining with wholesalers over prices. They were returning to their destinations after purchasing fish.
This frozen fish is sold in two types of packets weighing 10 and 20 kilogrammes. The fish is supplied here as per the demand.
Frozen fish worth around Tk50 crore is sold annually at this wholesale fish market. Every day, about 150-200 workers at the market make their living with this fish business. In addition, 3,000-3,500 people are directly and indirectly involved in the business.
The fish include rupchada, chandana, dhela, faisya, dungkur, tengra, sada chela, mochan tengra, kaua, colombo, argina, baila, chaitka, bottle, bau fish, paata kaua, michael, quail, bhangan, chital and arai suta.
There are a total of 18 wholesale traders in the centre established in 1983.
Manik Mollah, a fish trader from Nazirpur area of Pirojpur district, comes to Bagerhat KB fish market by motorbike every morning at 4:00 am to buy frozen marine fish. He buys fish at the auction from 5:00 am and then goes back.
"We sell these fish at the local market. The demand for frozen fish is currently high as fishing of domestic marine fish is banned now. Besides, the price of frozen fish is Tk200-Tk250 less per kg than the price of native marine fish," said Manik.
Mirajul Islam, a wholesale fish trader of the KB Market, said, "As the imported fish have no demand in the countries from where they come, the prices of them are less than the prices of local marine fish. "
Shahidul Islam, a local fish consumer, comes to this market to buy fish regularly as he likes to eat marine fish. However, the taste of the imported frozen fish was not as delicious as that of the native marine fish, he said.
Bishnupatra, a fish trader from Chitalmari in Bagerhat, has been buying fish from this fish market for about 14 years.
"We buy faisya fish in a 10 kg packet at Tk120-Tk130 per kg and colombo fish at Tk80-Tk90 per kg and sell it in vans in different areas of my village. The daily income is Tk400-Tk500. With this money, I bear my family expenditure," said Bishnuputra.
Sheikh Idris Ali, president of the Bagerhat Coastal Fishermen's Association, said the fish come to Chattogram port by ship from Oman, Japan and China.
From there, the importers take them to different districts, including Khulna. Later, the traders buy the fish from the importers and bring it to the Bagerhat marine fish landing centre by a freezing (air-conditioned) vehicle.
"The demand for this imported fish has been increasing significantly as less fish are caught in the Bay of Bengal now and fishing remains banned most of the time," said Idris.