CHATTOGRAM: The government's two-month ban on fishing off the country's coast to boost depleted fish stocks started on Thursday.
The 65-day ban - lasting from May 20 until July 23 - is timed to occur with the breeding season of fishes. All types of fishing vessels will fall under the purview of the restriction, officials said. The Navy and Coast Guard would enforce the ban from Thursday to ensure safe and proper breeding of fishes in the country's coastal and its territorial waters in Bay of Bengal.
Organising secretary of the Fishing Boat Association Mostak Ahmad told the FE on Thursday over 8,000 engine boats or fishing trawlers returned to ghats (local coastal terminal) on Wednesday, a day before the two-month ban took effect.
However, he said, a few more boats which were staying in deep sea yesterday, would return to coasts either today (Thursday) or within the next couple of days.
Local administration sources said, the government imposed the ban as catching of fishes off coasts and in Bangladesh's territorial waters in Bay increased significantly during breeding season from May to July in the past few years.
Officials said the government has allocated rice for all fishermen affected by the fishing ban in sea.
During the 65-day ban, concerned authorities will increase surveillance in coastal areas and on the Bay territorial waters to prevent both local fishermen and foreign ones from fishing and take legal actions against those flouting the rules.
Sources said, there are at least 248 large engine-driven fishing vessels or trawlers in the country which are used for commercial fishing.
Of the large trawlers, 200 carry out commercial fishing on coasts and in Bay regularly but the watercraft remain anchored on
Karnaphuli River during the two-month-long fishing ban every year.
Besides, around 68,000 vessels, both with and without engines, operate within 32,440 square kilometres off the country's coastline until they reach the depth of 40 metres which is demarcated as the first level of fishing in sea.
Only 241 vessels, registered by the government, are allowed to proceed to the second and third levels for fishing.
The second level expands from a depth of 40-metre to 200-metre while the third one begins from the 200-metre depth and, from there, the vessel can proceed and fish until it reaches the end of the exclusive economic zone.
It may be mentioned that Bangladesh has gained rights to 118,813 square kilometres of territorial sea and 200 nautical miles of an exclusive economic zone by resolving disputes over maritime border with Myanmar and India.
Cox's Bazar district officer of Department of Fisheries Khalikujjaman said, "The government-imposed ban on large engine-driven boats will be continued for 65 days while for smaller boats, the restriction will last only for 22 days.
Chief Scientific Officer of Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute at Cox's Bazar Dr Shafiqur Rahman said, "It is true that fishermen will suffer for a limited period for the ban on fishing in sea. But, finally, they can catch more fishes after the end of the breeding period."