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Hilsa ban to be lifted after meeting local demand

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Staff Reporter
Fisheries and Livestock Minister M Sayedul Haq on Tuesday said the ban on hilsa export will be lifted only when the local demand is met.
The minister said this when he was asked to clear government’s position about the proposal from India to lift the ban on hilsa export by Bangladesh.
Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Pankaj Saran on January 22 met the Fisheries Minister at his office and requested to lift the ban on hilsa export from Bangladesh.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on the same day told reporters that formal export of hilsa will be better than the smuggling of the delicious fish.
The government on July 31, 2012 imposed the ban on hilsa export to keep its prices at an affordable level in the local market.
Addressing a press briefing marking the beginning of the Jatka Conservation Week 2014 at Matsya Bhaban today, the Fisheries and Livestock Minister said the government is more focused on boosting the production of hilsa by properly implementing the ban on the catch of ‘jhatka’ fish (hilsa fry).
Hilsa smaller than 10 inch or 25 centimeters in length are considered ‘jatka’.
Currently, an eight-month ban on catching ‘jhatka' from November 1 to June 30 in all hilsa resources regions of the country are in effect.
Hilsa fry develops 2-2.5 centimeters in length per month and starts moving towards sea after growing 15-17 centimeters in length and starts the return journey to sweet water rivers after becoming 25-28 centimeters in length with 300-450 grams weights for laying eggs.
The minister noted that the overall hilsa output has been increasing due to the ban on jhatka catch over the last couple of years.
Researchers at Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI) in their study on the hilsa population along the lower Meghna in 2013 found out a population density of 2.77 kg jatka per 100 metre per hour, while the density stood 0.72 kg back in 2007, he noted.
Sayedul Haq said from June 2011 to January 2014, government agencies has conducted 2196 mobile court drives against jhatka catch and seized about 292 tonnes of jhatka, 777 lakh metre nets from the errant fishermen.
So far, 717 cases have been filed in this connection, resulting in jailing 284 people and a total fine of Tk 15.68 lakh, he added.
According to the Department of Fisheries (DoF), the hilsa catch in the last fiscal stood at about 391 thousand tonnes.

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