Journey through Bangladesh
Where is Koi?
KOI fish in this region used to be really, really cheap. Although you will not find this to be true today. People here treat koi in the same ranks as hilsha as is evident by the great demand for this species.
For a long time now the residents of Nabiganj have been very proud of the size and quantities of their koi catch. If there is a guest in the house it is an absolute rule to treat them to koi. But times have changed. Nabiganj, once famous for its plentiful supply of koi, is now struggling to meet the demand.
At the fish market koi prices are the most fiercely haggled upon. Bad bargainers can rarely come home with a piece of koi. But if you bring up the topic in this region you will see eyes light up and you will hear stories of its great past.
Fisherman Jillu Miah, commenting on the current state of the business said, “We have only ourselves to blame for the dwindling supply. The lakes and ponds are all filling up but the open water bodies need for the cultivation of fish are decreasing. Killing baby koi in the rainy season is partly what caused this disappearance and to think there was a time when each household could make a living just by selling koi.”
Mohammad Sohel Miah who now lives in the UK commented that stories about Nabiganj's koi-filled past now seem like fairy tales. He was shopping for koi not with the expectation of taking some home but simply to see if there were any left. He also commented that the government should take steps to preserve these dwindling species.
Fish-seller Masuk Ahmed complained that by not letting the hatchlings grow to maturity we are shooting ourselves in the foot. Koi from Nabiganj had once been exported all over Bangladesh as well as abroad and now we do not have enough to feed ourselves.
Local fisheries worker Mofidul Haque said that all the natural conditions required for the growth of the koi population were in place. However with the present depletion of open water bodies combined with the reckless and irresponsible killing of hatchlings is giving rise to the current dismal situation.
The city council chairman Tofazzal Islam Chowdhury says he is hopeful about reclaiming Nabiganj's plentiful past. He said adequate measures can stop the killing of hatchlings if only we will get together and approach this in a systematic and scientific manner, Nabiganj will see bountiful days once more.
(R) thedailystar.net 2008