Otters have been used in Bangladesh to help fishermen catch fish for centuries. Yet, pollution and other modern problems are hurting the tradition of otter fishing.
Due to the pollution in the rivers of southwest Bangladesh, this tradition may soon be a distant memory. The pollution is killing more and more river life which means fewer fish. Many fishermen are struggling to maintain their lifestyles like many fishing communities across the globe.
In the Gopra village in southwest Bangladesh, there are only 12 families who still use otters to help them catch fish. There used to be hundreds. The fishermen take their otters out on the rivers in wooden crates. They then let them swim around the boat luring fish into the fishermen’s nets. Fishing is usually done at night. The otters don’t catch the fish themselves but essentially herd them into the nets. They are then rewarded with some of the catch.
Not only is pollution hurting fish population and the rivers’ ecology but the river otter is now an endangered species. Otter fishing is, in fact, helping the species thrive because the fishermen are breeding and caring for their otters, maintaining their population.
If otter fishing completely disappears, it could mean the river otter species could further diminish and the fishermen must look for new livelihoods.
Otter fishing could soon be a tradition of the past.