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Remal devastates shrimp and fish farms in Bagerhat

Messenger Online

Published: 14:43, 29 May 2024

Remal devastates shrimp and fish farms in Bagerhat

Photo : Collected

Fish and shrimp farmers in Bagerhat district are reeling from a devastating blow after Cyclone Remal washed away 35,000 enclosures, resulting in losses estimated at Tk 70 crore. During a recent visit to Rampal upazila of the district, many embankments broken by the tidal surge, transforming once-productive areas into vast water bodies.

It looks like there is only one enclosure over a large area. Many could not protect their shrimp in the end, even after raising the height of the net in the embankment.

The situation is equally dire in Sadar, Rampal, Mongla, and Morrelganj upazilas. Farmers report that the combination of tidal surges and heavy rains devastated their enclosures. Additionally, shrimp are succumbing to drought and viral infections, compounding their losses.

Natural disasters have repeatedly struck this region, with Cyclone Remal being only the latest. Previous storms like Yaas, Bulbul, Aila, and Sidr have also wreaked havoc, causing substantial financial losses and discouraging shrimp farming.

Samir Baran, a shrimp farmer with two decades of experience, shared his plight: “Water entered my eight bigha of shrimp enclosures due to the tidal surge caused by Cyclone Remal, leading to losses amounting to several lakhs.”

Anwar Hossain, another farmer from Chanditala in Rampal, echoed this sentiment, saying, “This year, I have lost everything.”

Shrimp farmers in Rampal, Mongla, Morrelganj and Bagerhat’s Sadar upazilas said that once upon a time, shrimp farming was a profitable business. But now, shrimp farming is not so profitable for various reasons, including natural disasters.

Referring to Cyclone Remal, they said, they have not seen such a tidal surge in recent years.

The shrimp industry in Bagerhat is now facing an unprecedented crisis. Mohitul Islam Sumon, president of the Shrimp Farmers Association, estimated the total loss at Tk 300 crore. “Almost all small and large shrimp enclosures have been washed away,” he stated, calling for interest-free loans and life insurance for farmers to support the struggling industry.

ASM Russel, the district fisheries officer, confirmed the widespread damage: “A total of 35,000 fish and shrimp enclosures were washed away, with preliminary estimates showing losses of Tk 70 crore for shrimp and Tk 3 crore for infrastructure.” He emphasized the urgent need for financial assistance and loans on favorable terms to help farmers recover.

The fisheries department reported that Bagerhat district hosts 74,700 fish enclosures on 56,000 hectares, supporting 55,000 fish farmers. With their livelihoods at stake, the call for support and sustainable solutions has never been more critical.