concern for Bangladesh!
By Sein Mra
Teknaf, 23rd July 03: The markets of Bangladesh
for some time have been flooded with the fish either imported or smuggled from Burma.
In recent weeks high concern has been raised about the quality and nature of
preserving the Burmese freshwater and sea fish.
Everyday the fish from Sittwe and Rangoon
make their way to Chittagong, the
chief seaport of Bangladesh,
loaded in trucks and boats through Teknaf in the southeastern tip of Bangladesh
on the western bank of the Naaf
River that serves as the common
border. From here the fish make their way to the markets across the
country, and also beyond to West Bengal in India.
The Hilsa (or Rangoon Shad) is the hot item, much
prized for its taste and Indian culinary. Besides that other freshwater
fish including the Ruhi (trout), Katla
Mrigal and Pangas (river
catfish) are in hot demand, too. For a long time the shrimp industry at
Teknaf and Cox’s Bazaar has been dependent on the shrimp and prawns illegally
and legally brought in from Burma.
In a month or two the season for shrimp and prawn will begin.
The fish traders at Teknaf have confirmed that the fish from Burma
do not bear any quality certification by any standardization institution and in
the same manner no one on the Bangladesh
side conduct any check on the fish for fitness for general health and
hygiene. That has made way for a large amount of fish, unfit for
human consumption, into the markets of Bangladesh
Sources said that fish from Rangoon
come to Teknaf in two ways: in frozen containers and in large mechanized
vessels. The fish brought in containers are comparatively better while
those brought in mechanized vessels often fail to meet the health standards
since it takes as much as seven days for a vessel to sail to Teknaf from Rangoon.
In a week’s time the condition of the fish deteriorates. By the time the
consignment reaches Bangladesh
the fish has already started to go bad. The same fish is treated with
harmful chemicals to keep firm till delivery. From Teknaf the fish,
preserved in ice, are now sent to Chittagong,
from where they are trucked and shipped to the destinations inside the
According to an estimate by a customs officer who wanted to remain anonymous,
more than twice the volume of legal import of fish is smuggled into Bangladesh.
Many of the law enforcing agents who are entrusted with collection of duties
are corrupt and in conjunction with the smugglers they allow the illegal trade
to go on. Because of the absence of the control of standards, they raise
allegations of the consignments of being below standard to sponge bribes.
Many concerned citizens have raised questions, how long should this be
permitted to go on. #