People gather fish on the beach during the coronavirus pandemic
People gather fish on the beach during the coronavirus pandemicReuters file photo

Fish farmers and importantly the fisheries department of Jashore district call for a ban on importing fish from India at a time when the country’s fish imports from the neighbour have doubled through Benapole port.

Due to low prices, Indian rui has witnessed a jump in imports.

Fish farmers in the district are adamant that there is no need to import fish from India, at a time when the country is not only self-sufficient with the amount of fish it produces, but also exporting more than ever.

Mahbubur Rahman, Benapole fisheries officer, said that over 3.26 million kg fish was exported to India in FY 2017-18, over 3.48 million kg in FY 2018-19 and over 5.24 million kg in FY 2019-20. At the same time, over 3.51 million kg was imported from India in FY 2017-18, around 4.73 million kg in FY 2018-19 and around 4.82 million kg in FY 2019-20.

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Due to coronavirus restrictions, no fish was exported from Bangladesh in April-June. Over 200,000 kg fish was exported in July. The value of which is $518,000. On the other hand 2.04 million kg fish worth $1.47 million was imported in June and July.

In August, over 300,000 kg of fish was exported, worth $772,000. In the same month, 1.69 million kg fish worth $1.2 million was imported from India.

Sharsha upazila fisheries officer Abul Hasan said rui, katla, sea fish and freshwater fish were imported from India. On the other hand, pabda, gulsha, tengra, pangas, frozen shrimps, carp, Bhetki and other fish are exported from Bangladesh.

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There is high demand for pabda in India, covering nearly 40 per cent of fish exported to the country. Pabda is mostly produced in Jashore district.

He further said the fish being imported from India are now being farmed extensively locally. “There is no need to import these fishes from India. If imports were stopped, the farmers of the country would benefit immensely.”

There is no need to import fish from India. If imports were stopped, the farmers of our country would have benefited.
Anisur Rahman, Jashore district fisheries officer

Fish farming covers a total area of 6,239 hectares in 15 baors, 271 enclosures, 10 beels and 6,619 ponds of the upazila. Sharsha produces 22,465 tonnes of fish in a year.

Abul Hasan said fish production in Sharsha upazila is three times that of the local demand in the upazila. It produces 22,485 tonnes of fish a year. But the local demand is only 7,572 tonnes.

After meeting the local demand, the surplus fish is sold in other parts of the country and exported to India.

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Abdul Quddus, a fish exporter from Sharsha upazila, said, “There is a huge demand for pabda and carp in India. We usually export pabda, tengra and other freshwater fish.”

Agriculturist Shafiqul Islam said, “We collect fish fry from natural sources. After rearing them in tanks and then in ponds, different species of fish are produced. We supply these fish to the local market as well as abroad.”

Jashore district fisheries officer Anisur Rahman said rui and katla fish were being imported from India due to low prices. Rui from Bangladesh, however, is said to taste much better than the imported variety.

“There is no need to import fish from India,” he said, reiterating the point made by Sharsha upazila fisheries officer Abul Hasan. “If imports were stopped, the farmers of our country would have benefited.”