A major disadvantage for them is that they work and live out of our views, even out of the radar screen of any dedicated NGO. Otherwise, like garments industry workers, ship breaking workers, the deep sea fisherman of Bangladesh are also vital to Bangladesh economy and with their blood and toil, Bangladesh earns millions of foreign currency every year.
These fishermen, while fishing with their self made trawlers, brave the rough seas at the largest and arguably the wildest delta of the world. They compete with the fishermen from neighboring countries who has modern sonar, radar, automated net and fishing gear equipped vessels and yet they come back home with catch enough to sustain the economy of the country.
Because they live in so remote coastal parts of Bangladesh, there is very limited knowledge about their life.
However, on a regular basis we read in newspapers about missing fishermen in the Bay of Bengal. This is almost a monthly event. We never know how many actually ever return. There is no registry for these people who are lost on a regular basis.
They have many problems, first being the danger of working in the rough seas with ill equipped boat without any navigational and rescue device.
Without navigation knowledge and equipment, very frequently they find themselves in foreign water and a large number of Bangladeshi fishermen are now in jail in countries like India, Myanmar, Thailand etc.
They don’t get adequate wages for their risky and very hard job. The fishermen can only keep 40% of the catch while 60% goes to the owner of the trawler. Yet, unlike garments workers, they have no association and their anger/sorrow is far removed from our policy makers to really make any law protecting their rights. Here is a picture of some fisherman who otherwise would be another 40 lost fishermen lost in the Bay of Bengal. But luckily they were rescued from yesterday’s storm.