Around 70 per cent fisherman are currently without jobs due to the ongoing 65-day ban on fishing in the Bay of Bengal, according to a study.
It also revealed that 50 per cent of them are without three meals a day, for failing to include their names in the list of aid by the government.
The study, conducted by non-governmental organisation COAST Trust, was prepared based on information from 264 fisher families in the coastal districts of Cox’s Bazar, Laksmipur, Bhola, Patuakhali, Khulna, and Bagerhat.
During the ban period, 42.4 per cent of the fishermen families have an average monthly income of Tk 6,000-10,000.
However, the rest 60.8 per cent of the families have no income at all, as per the study.
Thus, where 95.8 per cent of the families used to eat three meals a day, now only 51 per cent of the families can eat three meals.
The government is providing 43 kg of rice to help the families of the fishermen during the ban.
But, even though 65.8 per cent of the fishing families got rice, 34.2 per cent have not received this assistance yet.
Half of those who received the government assistance almost a month after the ban began.
Moreover, 40 percent of the fishers complained that despite fulfilling all the conditions, their names did not appear in the government list for support, so they got nothing.
67.5 per cent of the government assistance recipients complained that the assistance as not sufficient to support families as there was no cash assistance to meet other household expenses.
Moreover, 96.1 per cent of the fishermen did not receive any assistance under other social safety net programmes.
Thus, 79.9 per cent of the fishermen have borrowed on interest to meet the expenses of the family, 42.1 per cent have sold their labour in advance, and 45.7 per cent have borrowed from the money lenders at high interest.
The study also found that violence against women in fishers’ families spiked during the ban. 51.8 per cent of households have experienced domestic violence.
The study also made several specific recommendations to address the various crises faced by fishing families.
Some notable recommendations are:
- Ensuring an alternative source of income
- Giving cash assistance instead of rice
- Ensuring easy access to loans or financial assistance
- Compiling of an accurate list of fishermen
- Awareness and incentive activities to prevent child marriage during this period
- Increasing the rate of education, setting a “fishing ban period” in coordination with India and Myanmar.