"Puti, a dominant small indigenous fish species of the floodplain like the Mola, is also rarely found since the disease broke
out (epizootic ulcerative syndrome in 1988). Taki and Shol are also less visible became of the diseases."
On the Limitations and Drawbacks of SIS as Food
Several issues were highlighted, which included:
• SIS has lot of bones, so it has to be eaten carefully;
• SIS gets rotten quickly, so it has to be consumed or marketed soon after capture;
Measures Needed to Revive SIS
a number of measures were suggested including:
• closure of fishing areas for up to 3 months (in rivers, beels and floodplains), corresponding with the months of
Baishakh, loishtho, Ashar (early monsoon);
• during such a closure, traditional fishermen should be provided with some kind of support;
• ban the use of current and khoiya jal;
• increase the depth of the rivers-both the main ones and smaller ones.
Discussion Group 2: The Fish Bazar in Toolagram.
The meeting took place in the Bangla month of Falgun (mid-February). The participants were members of poor, landless and
mid-income households. Key participants included fisherfolk, fish traders and community elders.
The main theme coming out of the discussion was: Chotomach has become a sad memory of our past.
"Once there was a beel in this locality called Shakull beel. Natural waters during monsoon inundated the area. This provided
a natural stock of fish from which we caught what we wanted to eat. The sluice gates and embankments built over the last
few decades have gradually surrounded (and cut off) the area where water used to come and enter the beel."
The discussants stated that the embankment controlling natural inundation of the low land has:
• reduced the availability of freshwater fish by over 90%;
• increased HYV culture in the land reclaimed from inundation;
• increased use of inorganic fertilizer, insecticide and pesticides for HYV;
• increased human settlement leading to increased catch effort;
• increased professional fisherfolk (Muslim new entrants); and o shakul1 beel is entirely dried out through December
till February (as all land is privately owned). Thus fish cannot live throughout the seasons allowing them to grow,
mature and breed.
The respondents believed that SIS (Chotomach) play an important role in maintaining the ecological balance of open water
bodies. The main cause of SIS' decline was the control of the natural flow of water over the land. This used to make it fertile,
providing sustenance for both terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna.
The fisherfolk elders informed us about the habits of some fish species: "Melli and Puti consume organic debris. These were
found in abundance in the open-waters before the embankment was constructed. Now debris has become less available,
and these two species have suffered most."
• Some villagers buying fish from the bazar (small market) reflected that at present:
• Less fish is available in the bazar and in the locality;
• Less fish means less available to catch and consume;
• Price of Chotomach is increasing as less and less land is inundated, depriving SIS of habitat;
• Increased prices reduce the capacity of poor households to purchase fish;
• People are forced to buy cultured species (Silver Carp, Nilotica, Mirror Carp etc.) They prefer leol mach (Koi,
Shingi, Magur), but these are much less available than any other fish these days;