The full moon has brought hilsa in large numbers to the river estuaries, enabling the fishermen to net plenty of hilsa and pocketing good profits.
“Fishermen have been netting a plentiful number of hilsa from different rivers estuaries including the Bay-of-Bengal since the full moon from August 26-27,” said Dr M Anisur Rahman, senior scientific officer at Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI).
He said September is the peak time for hilsa netting as a large number of hilsa moves to the river during this period.
Fishermen of Chandpur, Chittagong and other coastal areas are making good profits, as a good number of hilsa are being netted in the rivers, he informed.
Dr M Anisur Rahman said in the past few years, the fishing ban on mother and juvenile hilsa has successfully help sustain the marine fish in the rivers. He also expressed hope that hilsa production will exceed 5 lakh tonnes this year.
Country’s hilsa production has increased by around 150 per cent in last 15 years due to the government’s different initiatives including a temporary ban on fishing during the breeding season and livelihoods support for the fishermen.
Hilsa production increased from 199,032 tonnes in 2002-03 to 496,417 tonnes in 2016-17.
Of the total hilsa production, 217,469 tonnes (43.81 per cent) came from inland and 278,948 tonnes (56.19 per cent) came from marine catches, according to Bangladesh Fisheries Statistical Report 2016-17.
Supply of hilsa has also increased in the city’s retail markets.
On Saturday, a hilsa weighing one kg was selling at Tk 1,100-1,300. The price ranged between Tk 1,500 and 1,800 before Eid.
Hilsa weighing around 700-800 grams are now selling at Tk 600-700 per piece and the ones weighing 500-600 grams are selling at Tk 450-500 per piece, said a hilsa trader at Mohammadpur Krishi market in the city.
Mohammad Razu, a fish trader at the market, said the supply of hilsa has increased after the Eid, and the price has come down as the presence of customers is thin.
Many consumers, however, alleged hilsa price is yet to drop to a reasonable level despite the rise in supply.
“We cannot afford hilsa due to the exorbitant prices of the fish,” said Asma Ahmed, a consumer visiting the kitchen market in the city on Sunday.
Abdur Rahman, another consumer, said he bought four hilsa at Tk 3,000 from Mohammadpur Krishi Market.
The government moved to ban netting of hilsa fries in 2004-5 FY to boost the production of the marine fish. Heavy rainfall and favourable weather conditions have also contributed to the rise in hilsa production this year.
Experts said if the government continues to put restrictions on catching hilsa fries and mother hilsa, people will get a plenty of hilsa round the year.
Hilsa fish move from coastal areas to the Padma and Meghna rivers to lay eggs around the first full moon of the Bangla calendar month of Ashwin.
A mother hilsa approximately releases minimum 10-12 lakh eggs and highest 21-25 lakh eggs. Survival of 50 per cent of the eggs can produce juvenile hilsa equivalent to 10 per cent of the total eggs.