The long wait of the country's coastal fishermen has ended as fishing in the sea resumed on Saturday midnight after a 65-day ban.
Thousands of fishermen were found busy preparing fishing nets and repairing trawlers on the bank of River Bakkhali in Cox's Bazar on Saturday. Some were carrying fishing equipment, supplies and food items in trawlers.
Mohammad Maksum, the sailor of a trawler named FB Nishan, said, "I am so happy that the wait is finally over. The 65-day closure put me and my family in a financial crisis. On Sunday morning, I go fishing and it is truly a joyous moment to celebrate."
Thousands of fishing boats and trawlers in the coastal areas are eagerly waiting to sail. Fishermen are hoping to catch a lot of hilsa in the sea this time.
Fisherman Asif said, "Some 22 fishermen, including myself, will board the trawler for the 10-day fishing expedition. We have loaded the trawler with all kinds of oil, nets, drums, ropes and food items."
Surat Alam, another fisherman, said, "It was a depressing time we passed during the ban. Now I feel better. Fishing in the sea is always exciting. It is also my livelihood and my family depends on it. The weather has been dry lately but it has started to rain now. So, fishermen and fish traders believe that fishing will go well this time around."
Osman Gani Tulu of Cox's Bazar Fishermen Association Oikya Parishad, said, "There is joy among the fishermen. A festive mood is prevailing on every trawler now. All preparations have been done. Hopefully, fishing expeditions begin at midnight."
Although there are more than one lakh fishermen in Cox's Bazar, the number of registered fishermen is around 63,000 and the number of registered vessels is around 5,500.
According to the Department of Fisheries, there are 2,98,595 registered fishermen and labourers, 30 commercial trawlers, 32,000 automatic fishing vessels and 34,000 manual vessels all over the country.
Fishing of all species, including hilsa, was banned from 20 May to 23 July in order to increase the breeding and production of fish in the sea. In compensation, fishermen were given rice at the time of the ban.
In the financial year 2007-08, the production of hilsa in the country was only 2,90,000 tonnes. In 2018-19, it increased to 5,17,000 tonnes, and 5,33,000 tonnes in 2019-20.
In other words, in the last 11 years, the production of hilsa in the country has increased by about 84%.
Even three years ago, 65% of the total hilsa caught in the world was fished in Bangladesh. The figure has been 85% since last year.