After a 65-day ban, fishermen in Chattogram and surrounding areas have started going into the sea to catch Hilsa but rough weather has come in their way as a big hurdle.
Wholesalers (aratdar) and fishermen at Fishery Ghat in the port city said many fishermen could not go fishing despite having all preparation as the met office hoisted cautionary signal number three and advised fishermen to stay near the coast.
Babul Sarkar, general secretary of the Chittagong Fishery Ghat Business Association, said, "About 2,000 engine boats from Chattogram and surrounding areas went catching Hilsa. But fishers were forced to come back with small catches due to huge stormy waves," he said.
"The ban on fishing in the sea was lifted Friday midnight. But rough weather since then did not allow us to go into the deep sea where Hilsas are found in large numbers," he added.
However, as the ban is gone, the fishermen are happy that they are now able to catch some fish, although in small quantities.
During a visit to the spot, The Business Standard correspondent saw trawlers anchored at different places in Fishery Ghat, unloading various species of fish including Hilsa, Poya, Loita, Chhuri and shrimp.
Hilsa-laden boats were seen crowding different ghats of Chattogram city, including Fishery Ghat, Rasmonighat, Patenga Ghat 15 in the morning and at night.
Some fishers are bringing Hilsa in vans, which will take the fish to the wholesale markets.
Fishermen's huts are now in a festive mood. The ghats are abuzz with fishermen and traders.
Ramiz Uddin, boatman of Khwaja Baba trawler, said the trawlers here do fishing in Anwara, Banshkhali, Kutubdia, Saint Martin's, Noakhali, Hatia, Sandwip and Bhola. "We have been fishing in the Banshkhali and Kutubdia coasts."
Wholesaler Jahangir Hossain said, "Basically, 60% of the fish in Chattogram is from the sea. If fishing in the sea is prohibited, the fishery ghats will not be crowded. After many days the workers are working and buyers are coming to buy hilsa and other marine fish."
Another wholesaler Mintu Saha said many trawlers do not want to take the risk as cautionary signal number 3 was hoisted. People who have gone to the sea have also been fishing close to the coast.
Fishermen who come to the market say there are plenty of fish in the sea. They say especially during the full moon, fishes come near the shore. But they can't catch it because the sea is rough. The fishermen hope that a lot of hilsa will be caught this time when the cautionary signal number will be lowered.
Business leader Babul Sarkar said every day 500 to 3,000 maunds of fish are coming to the market, with some boats coming back to the ghats with fish. Many boats have just departed for the sea. When they return, Fishery Ghat will be flooded with Hilsa.
He hopes that the Hilsa catches will be more this time than last year.
Hundreds of fishermen and boats go to the sea from Rashmoni Ghat of the city every day and catch fish.
The fishermen and traders of the ghat said they have just started catching Hilsa. So the price is a bit high. Big Hilsa(one kg and more) is sold forTk600-700 per kilogram at wholesale price and the smaller ones for Tk 400-500 per kg.