The supply of fish in different wholesale and retail markets in Chattogram has decreased by around 70 percent amid the 10-day nationwide shutdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Farms have not been able to supply fish to the markets because of the restriction on vehicle movement during the shutdown. The number of wholesalers and buyers has also decreased drastically. As a result, there has been a shortage of both cultivated and sea fish in all the markets of Chattogram.
On top of that, most fish-farms are facing a shortage of fish food, can which can hamper fish production in coming days, said the fish producers of Chattogram.
Kamrul Hossain, a fish farmer in the Mirsarai area of Chattogram, said, "There are more than 500 fish-farms in this area on around 4,000 acres of water bodies. Around 70 percent of the fish supply of Chattogram comes from here. Every day more than 200 trucks carry fish from here to different wholesale markets in Feni, Baiarhat, Sitakunda, Pahartali, Bahaddarhat etc. But on Saturday (March 28) there were only 40 trucks here."
"The farmers buy fish-food after selling their fish. But as the sale of fish has fallen, they cannot buy fish-food for their farms. This is hampering fish production," he added.
Shimul Ahmed, owner of a fish warehouse in Pahartali, said, "There are 17 warehouses in this market. Fish were brought here from many places including Cox's Bazar, Kutubdia, Noakhali and Mirsarai. Every warehouse sells around Tk10 lakh worth of fish per day. The supply was almost normal in the first two days of the lockdown, but it decreased from Saturday. The fish supply in the Pahartali market has decreased by around 70 percent."
"More than 20 super-shops and three hundred fish vendors used to buy fish from Pahartali bazaar. But they are not coming these days due to the coronavirus lockdown. Most of the wholesalers did not come on Saturday. We do not know what the future holds," he added.
Abdul Awal, a warehouse owner in Bariarhat, said, "Around 5 tonnes of fish were normally sold by 30 warehouses in Bariarhat market every day. But the number has reduced to only one tonne in recent days. There is not enough supply in the market."
Many mobile fish vendors sell fish in different residential areas of the city, but they have stopped doing that during the lockdown. The super-shops in the city are also facing a fish shortage.
Several fish mongers of Kazirdeuri market said most of the residents of the city have gone to their villages because of the lockdown. Those who are still here have already stocked-up on essential products. As a result, the demand for fish has decreased. Even then, the supply of fish is not enough to meet even the reduced demand.
Ataul Haque, a resident of Bahaddarhat area, said, "The mobile fish vendors used to come to the residential areas, but they have not been coming since March 26. As a result, the price of fish in Bahaddarhat market has increased."
Md Aminul Hoque, general secretary of the Sonali Jantrik Fish Co-operative, said, "Every day around 50 to 60 tonnes of sea and freshwater fish are supplied from Fishery Ghat, Chattogram to the whole country. However, the supply has halved since March 26. The wholesalers are not coming because of the coronavirus outbreak."
"On Saturday, only around 20 tonnes of fishes were supplied from here. We are concerned that the supply can decrease further," he added.