Hundreds of fishing boats return to shore in Sunderbans

Fishermen returning to shore after the water level rises in the rivers in Sunderbans. This picture captured near the Sutiya Bazar launch terminal in KoyraProthom Alo

Coastal fishermen in Khulna’s Sunderbans adjacent Koyra upazila have returned to the shore with their fishing boats on Saturday as the Bay of Bengal is getting increasingly turbulent as the cyclone Mocha inches closer to making impact.

On Saturday morning, 50 or so fishing boats were docked at the Sutiya Bazar launch terminal, near the Kashiabad upazila forest station. The fishermen of those boats said that the water level of the rivers and other water bodies inside the Sunderbans is on the rise.

Maharajpur, Koyra’s fisherman Zakir Hossain said, he and his fellow fishermen were in the Sunderbans with the permission of the forest department. But the rivers inside Sunderbans had more waves than usual. Upon hearing the weather forecast, they returned to the coast.

He said that the other boats inside the Suderbans are also returning to the shore. Those who are deep inside the forest will also return once the cyclone warning reaches them.

President of Wildlife Federation Mir Kamruzzaman Bachchu said, “The water levels of rivers and other water bodies in the Sunderbans are rising due to the cyclone Mocha and the sea is also turbulent. Since yesterday (Friday), the fishermen of the Sunderbans have been returning to the shores. Around 300 fishing boats have returned to Kashiabad, Kobadak, Baniakhali and Naliyan Forest Station. There are still some boats deep inside the forest. We are trying to contact the fishermen of those boats.”

Gobra, Koyra’s fisherman Mojibur Rahman said, the water level and number of waves began increasing in rivers inside the Sunderbans from Thursday evening. At first, the fishermen didn’t pay much attention to it and expected that things would return to normal soon. But on Friday, the situation worsened. The heat inside the forest also reached scorching levels. The fishermen couldn’t bare the weather anymore and decided to return.

Sunderban’s Kashiabad Forest Station’s official Shyam Prasad Ray said, “Due to cyclone Mocha, the water levels in the rivers and other water bodies were almost 2.5 feet higher than it usually is during morning high tide. The number of waves has also increased. The fishermen are returning from the Sunderbans. The forest department has also instructed them to stay in safe spots.”

The Sunderbans forest department assistant forest conservator AZM Hasanur Rahman said, the leaves of all forest department officials and employees have been cancelled and everyone has been instructed to return to workstations. All patrol outposts and offices have been instructed to keep sufficient amount of dry food in stock.

Koyra Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Md Mominur Rahman said that he is in constant communication with the fishermen samity and the fishermen to make sure they safely return to shore.

The severe cyclonic storm Mocha is gaining speed and getting closer to Bangladesh’s coast. Cox’s Bazar and other coastal areas are likely to experience the peripheral effects of the storm from Saturday evening.