Wholesale netting of sharks, affecting the balance in sea resourcesSharks are being netted indiscriminately in southern coasts including Kuakata, threatening the balance in marine resources and inviting a possible disaster in future. This is now a lucrative business for a large number of fishermen as shark's skin, teeth and oil are sold at high prices abroad. These have good markets in Middle East and European countries. The skin is used for making fashionable leather goods including moneybag and shoe. Shark teeth, used in making ornaments, are sold at Tk 2500 to Tk 3000 per kilogram in Middle Eastern countries. Oil extracted from shark, used as a medicine, is sold at over Tk 3000 per 40 kilogram, it was gathered. These are also being smuggled to neighbouring countries.
Besides, dry shark fish is sold in the domestic market at around Tk 80 per kilogram. Traders from Chittagong collect the dry fish and supply those to different areas of the country. It is It is also a favourite food item for local Rakhine community. In the absence of any restriction by the authorities, at least 1000 fishermen are engaged in netting sharks irrespective of size in shore areas and in the deep sea, sources said. They use a special type of net locally called 'lakka jal'. Smaller sharks are netted more than bigger ones, they said. At least 100 trawlers are engaged in netting small sharks now, the peak season. Schools of sharks are seen in the shallow waters from December to April, marine resources experts and fishermen said. More and more fishermen are being attracted to shark netting as it brings more profit than from other varieties of sea fish, they said.
Expressing concern at the indiscriminate netting, the experts said this will ultimately affect the balance in sea resources. Sharks live on some fast growing varieties of small fishes. This checks their over-population and maintains the balance. If the balance is not maintained, fishes will be attacked with various disease, Pijush Kanti Hari, Associate Professor of Zoology at Patuakhali Government College said when contacted. Moreover, as a natural phenonmenon, sharks will move away from Bangladesh territorial waters if this menace continues, they said. With the easy availability of sharks, 15 centres have sprang up in Lambur Char, 5 km west of Kuakata sea beach, for drying shark and trading, Zakir Hossain, a fish trader said. The relevant government departments should restrict indiscriminate netting of small sharks to maintain balance in sea resources in Bangladesh's coastal waters, experts said (Daily Star, February 27, 2005).
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