At the end of the 22-day ban on Hilsa fishing, the Hilsa market in Barishal has returned to its usual silvery look as fishermen start returning with boats full of the fish.
Large quantities of Hilsa poured into the wholesale market at the city's Port Road area early on Thursday morning, much to the joy of fishermen, traders and labours.
Wholesalers yesterday told this correspondent that fishermen did not waste a single moment as they started fishing for Hilsa on Wednesday night right at the end of the government ban.
Even though Hilsa from the Bay of Bengal are yet to reach the place, the market is already flooded with the variety coming from the river, they said.
The government imposed a ban on the catching, carrying and selling of Hilsa fish during the spawning season from October 9 to 30. The ban ended at 12-midnight on Wednesday.
A trader named Shahabuddin told The Business Standard that a large catch of the fish has broadened the smiles of fishermen, traders and labours because they will be able to lead a good life in the days to come.
It will also compensate them for the loss they suffered in these 22 days, he added.
Traders said that Hilsa, each weighing 600-900 grams, were selling for Tk24,000-Tk25,000 per maund, while those weighing 1 kg for Tk30,000 per maund, and the 1,200-gram ones were selling for Tk35,000-Tk40,000 per maund.
They said the price is a bit high because Hilsa from the Bay will take a few more days to come to the market. But once they start coming, the market will be more stable for customers.
During a spot visit to the Port Road market, this correspondent observed that it was very crowded. As the sun approached mid-sky, there was an added pressure in the crowd as fishing boats full of Hilsa were coming in good numbers.
The labourers too were busy with the arrival of each fishing boat. They were chipping large pieces of ice and using it to pack the Hilsa, so they found little time to rest.
Fish traders expressed satisfaction over the size of the Hilsa. They said the market did not sell Hilsa that had been previously caught or preserved.
But local sources said some unscrupulous fishermen netted Hilsa all through the ban period, and those fish are also being marketed with the fresh ones.
Bimal Chandra Das, the district fisheries officer (Hilsa), said the catch is large because there is a large quantity of fish in the river.
As a result, the fish has become quite affordable, he said.
Replying to an allegation that most of the Hilsa are full of eggs, the fisheries officer said that is normal because the bellies of Hilsa contain eggs all the year round.
He added that the ban is imposed only during the main breeding season.
Around 1,400 fishermen jailed during the ban
The divisional fisheries department said that they carried out 2,538 raids with 1,751 mobile courts in six districts of Barishal during the 22 days of the ban.
The authorities realised more than Tk44.56 lakh in fines and gave various jail sentences to 1,447 fishermen. They also seized around 89.69 thousand metres illegal fishing nets and confiscated 19 tonnes of Hilsa.
A total of 533 fishermen in Barishal were given various jail sentences in 2017. The number rose to 961 in 2018.