Newspaper article International New York Times

In New York, a Bangladeshi Catch of the Day

Newspaper article International New York Times

In New York, a Bangladeshi Catch of the Day

Article excerpt

Bangladeshi immigrants in New York City can be found fishing for tiny fish that happen to be staples of the Bangladeshi diet.

It may seem like an unusual spot to catch dinner, across the East River from Manhattan's imposing skyline. And the tiny fish that a group of fisherwomen trap in these waters may not seem like dinner at all.

But the women, Bangladeshi immigrants who live nearby, show up nearly every day, along a stretch of Vernon Boulevard in the New York City borough of Queens that overlooks a sheltered section of the East River known as Hallet's Cove.

They wear long, colorful dresses and head scarves, and they tote numerous metal traps that they toss into the river to lure small, silvery fish typically used by many anglers as bait and commonly called spearing or shiners.

Small fish like these happen to be staples of the Bangladeshi diet, often stir-fried with rice and vegetables. So these women appear this time of year when schools of the fish are plentiful in New York City's warm waterways, even in this urban stretch of river where the coastline is dominated by power plants and sewage treatment centers.

Pushing shopping carts loaded with wire traps, the women arrive during mid-or high-tide, which varies day by day.

They bait the traps with raw chicken and stale bread and toss them in the water, tying them to a railing.

There were perhaps a dozen traps in all, and the women pulled them out of the water every few minutes to pick out a handful of the fish, each two or three inches long, and toss them in a bucket.

"This is the time of year that the fish are here, the end of the summer," said one of the women who on Saturday was fishing with two other women.

The woman -- a 55-year-old Bangladeshi immigrant who was the only one of the group who would speak to a reporter -- declined to give her name, explaining that she did not want to attract any attention because she feared the practice of catching the fish was illegal. …

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