Curious case of ‘marked’ Hilsa: Researchers implement measures to conserve famous Bengali fish


Hilsa, or ilish, a freshwater fish of the Bay of Bengal, remains elusive to the Bengali commoners. Fish has also left its mark in Bengali history, scriptures and literature. Now, however, the fishermen are coming to the Hills with a ‘mark’. The reason behind this is a research institute.

The Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute has laid emphasis on conservation of Hilsa upstream of Ganga at Farakka. The main objective of the project is to preserve the area where Hilsa lays its eggs in the Ganges main stream at Farakka.

Also, the researchers aim to estimate how far north the hilsa travels along the water. Therefore, the small hilsa fish is being caught, which has a mark on its body, and is being carried to the north of the Ganges with great care as the fish only survives for a short time when taken out of the water.

The institute has alerted fishermen in the north of the river to report marked hills and has also promised a reward of Rs 200 per fish. An official of the institute said that about 250 such hills have already been caught from different areas upstream of the Ganges.

India is the second largest producer of Hilsa, just after Bangladesh. five years ago in hilsa production India 25 percent of the world’s total production. That production has now come down to 10 percent. Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s production share rose to 86% from 65% four years ago. According to the experts of Hilsa, the crisis of Hilsa is due to the capture of baby Hilsa before laying eggs.

Therefore, the central government wants to increase the testing of Hilsa from Farakka to Allahabad through the Namami Ganga project.

The construction of a new navigational lockgate at Farakka, which is already 250 meters long and about 26 meters wide, is nearing completion. The old lock was opened in 1986. Since then the flow of Hilsa has stopped. Experts expect the supply of Hilsa to go up to Allahabad with the arrival of the new shipping lockgate. There is also the possibility of laying eggs.

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