75 per cent fishing workers face financial hardship during the days of hilsa ban while 79.8 per cent of the workers that face economic problem have only one earning member in their families, according to a study.
The study found that those who live on fishing did not receive adequate amount of rice assistance from the government during the ban.
Manusher Jonno Foundation conducted the study titled ‘Ground Reality for Fishing Communities in Getting Cards and Some Recommendations’ between August 2018 and March 2021.
The findings were revealed ahead of the 22-day government ban on catching, selling, hoarding and transporting of hilsa in Bangladesh beginning on October 7.
Some 8,644 families in two unions including 3,141 in Patharghata sadar union under Patharghata upazila in Barguna and 5,503 in Kutubjom union under Maheskhali upazila in Cox’s Bazar district came under the survey.
Of the total families under the survey, 8,508 were headed by men and 136 by women.
MJF senior programme manager Shaikh Giasuddin Ahmed presented the study findings at a press conference held at the National Press Club on Tuesday.
He said that 66.5 per cent of the fishing community received government assistance cards at Patharghata union while it was 30.1 per cent at Kutubjom.
‘Many were scrapped as they were not involved in fishing during the list update in 2020, and also many not belonging to fishing community received cards due to political consideration and nepotism,’ he added.
Referring to the ban on fishing during the study period, Giasuddin said that 66 per cent fishing workers in Patharghata and 81 per cent in Kutubjom faced financial hardship.
‘A total of 52.9 per cent fishing workers took high interest loan from various jewellers and moneylenders while 39.2 per cent took loans from relatives, friends and neighbours with no interest to cope with hardship during the ban,’ he pointed out.
A total of 45 per cent people fishing in the sea earned their livelihood during the ban as a day labourer like weaving net, farming, fishing secretly, riding rickshaw/auto rickshaw and doing small business, according to the study.
During the ban, each family was scheduled to receive 20-kilogramme rice, but 95.5 per cent of the families in Patharghata received 16kg to 20kg rice while 65 per cent of them received 6kg to 10kg rice and 9.4 per cent received 16-20 kg in Kutubjom union.
Giasuddin observed that corruption was a bar to adequate distribution of rice among the affected families.
The study recommends that the government create a list of fishing workers engaging expert manpower with the support from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, update the list in every two years, provide the fishing workers identity cards and assure them of food assistance during the ban.