Otter Fishing has been a long-standing tradition in Bangladesh. For centuries, fishermen have been using trained otters to lure fish into their nets.
[F]ishermen lower their nets into the water close to the banks of the river. As they do this, their pet otters also dive tails up into the water with a splash. The animals do not catch the fish themselves, but chase them towards the fishing nets for the fishermen to haul in.
According to Mohammad Mustafa Feeroz, a professor of zoology at Dhaka’s Jahangirnagar University, the natural fish populations have reduced drastically because they are simply unable to breed. “Over-sedimentation, water pollution from oil and the use of pesticides in paddy fields, as well as over catching are all having an impact”.
Wildlife experts are worried too, not about the fishermen or the fish, but about the otters. Short-haired otters are an endangered species in Bangladesh. Otter fishing is one of the few reasons for their conservation. If the practice is lost, the otter population will begin to fade as well. “The captive population here is very healthy because of fishing”.