‘We do not get a chance at happiness’: the Bangladeshi fishermen caught by debt

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Hilsa fishermen must borrow to buy equipment but have to sell their catch at a low price to moneylenders – creating a generational debt trap

Kalam Sheikh’s life revolves around the few months when he goes in search of Bangladesh’s prized hilsa fish. When he gets a good catch, he can make enough money to live on for the rest of the year. He can pay off some of his debts and even improve his home.

But this fragile annual cycle has been broken this year, with bad catches bookended by months off the water by the coronavirus pandemic and government restrictions to stop overfishing.

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