Hilsa production has increased significantly in the Shariatpur portion of the Rivers Padma and the Meghna in recent years.
According to the district fisheries department, hilsa production in the district has increased by 2,024 tonnes in the last five years.
Fishermen and traders attributed the increase to successful implementation of mother hilsa conservation and jatka preservation campaigns.
In the 2019-20 financial year, 5,264 tonnes of hilsa were produced in the district.
Fisheries officials said fulfilling the local demand, hilsas of Shariatpur are now going to different other districts including Dhaka.
They said big-sized hilsas are now available in local markets because of increased hilsa breeding during this off season of winter months.
According to the fisheries department, around 206 tonnes of hilsas were produced in the first three weeks of January. In January 2020, the production was 207.38 tonnes and in December 2020 it was 242.48 tonnes. In December 2019, the production was 32.40 tonnes.
Hilsa is caught in a 69km area in the Padma and the Meghna in Shariatpur, where 18,260 fishermen work.
According to the fisheries department, around 3,240 tonnes of hilsa were caught in 2014-15 financial year; 3,448 tonnes in 2015-16; 3,920 tonnes in 2016-17; 5,060 tonnes in 2017-18; and 5,264 tonnes in 2019-20.
Hilsa season stretches from July to October. In recent years, fishermen are netting a huge amount of hilsas in the season.
Jatka (small hilsa) fishing is prohibited from 1 November to 30 June every year.
For two months, March-April, an area of 20km of the Padma has been declared a sanctuary for hilsa breeding. All kinds of fishing are prohibited during the time in that part of the river.
Every year, the mother hilsa conservation drive is launched in October to ensure smooth breeding, prohibiting all kinds of fishing in the river for 22 days.
During the mother hilsa conservation campaign, 12,194 fishermen are provided with 20kg of rice; and during the Jatka conservation drive, the fishermen are given 30kg of rice per month.
Manik Hossain, a hilsa trader of Gosairhat upazila of the district, said, "During the last five years, hilsa production has been increasing. So, the income of fishermen is also increasing. The ongoing campaign of the government has brought this benefit."
Alim Hossain of Vedharganj upazila said, "I saw a lot of hilsa when I was young. Then suddenly hilsas started to decrease in the river. Hilsa production decreased to such an extent that at one time getting hilsa meant getting a golden deer. But I have been getting hilsa in the river for the last few years. Prices are also good. If there is hilsa in the river, our income also increases."
Abul Khayer Pradhania, survey officer of district fisheries department, said, "Fisheries and Livestock Ministry and Fisheries Department supervise round-the-clock operations to increase hilsa production. The biggest success in increasing the production has come from the mother hilsa conservation campaign."
He said there are 121 warehouses in the district and the number is increasing every year. New people are joining the trading of hilsa.
District Fisheries Officer in Shariatpur Pranab Kumar Karmakar said hilsa is playing a big role in the national economy, besides meeting the demand for protein.