Bangladeshi Hilsa Fish
BSF seized 2,800 kg of Bangladeshi hilsa being smuggled into India since February
WHY IN NEWS:
Bangladesh had banned the export of the hilsa from the Padma river, the main branch of the Ganga in the country, eight years ago.
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Agriculture : Aquaculture
For PRELIMS keep an eye on facts and the fishing grounds . Map out the distribution of this fish and remember the major exporters .
For MAINS take a note on threats, pressure and the obstacles faced by these vulnerable fishes . Let us dive in !
BANGLADESHI HILSA FISH
- There has been a persistent decline of fish catch in spite of increasing efforts.
- The haul of juvenile hilsa and first spawners due to small mesh-size nets, which are detrimental to fish stock.
- The enforcement of regulations is important for India to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 14 as a signatory.
- SDG 14 commits countries to protect oceans and the lives that depend on it.
THE HILSA SUPREMACY
- Like the salmon, hilsa live most of their lives in salt water and swim to freshwater and estuarine waters to spawn (release eggs).
- The hatchlings go back to the sea and repeat the cycle.
- They can cover as much as 70 km in a day.
- Between July and October, large size groups of fish are abundant in the riverine area.
- In general, about 80 to 90 percent of the hilsa is captured during monsoon months (July to October) coinciding with the upstream movement to the rivers and estuaries.
- Annual average production of hilsa in India is 40,000 tonnes per year.
UNSUSTAINABLE FISHING PRESSURES
- The sustainability of hilsa fishing practices in the northern Bay of Bengal region suggest that there is an excess of licensed fishing boats .
- In West Bengal, hilsa is an important component of the state fishery.
- Installation of a barrage in Farakka has completely intercepted the Hooghly-Bhagirathi migratory route of Hilsa since 1975.
- Over-exploitation, siltation in riverbeds, dams, a decrease in water flow, pollution and fragmentation of the river in the dry season are key impediments to migration.
- Hilsa normally has a life expectancy of four to five years if not fished out.
- The juveniles are entangled in fishing gear during their seaward migration.
- For four to five months, the juveniles feed in freshwater before they make a move to sea water.
- Destruction of tiny hilsa and other fishlings are inadvertently brought upon by the prawn and prawn seed collectors using zero mesh nets.
- They are not attaining the required length and weight.
- There is no breeding ground for the fish in India.
GAP IN ENFORCEMENT
- The West Bengal government has imposed a fishing ban during the peak breeding period (between September 15 and October 24) every year .
- However, this remains to be implemented at the ground level with participation from department of fishery, fishermen association, businessmen and consumers.
- Hilsa is Bangladesh’s national fish.
- The Bangladesh government has introduced an extensive hilsa management action plan to increase hilsa production .
- The popular fish (hilsa of the Padma river) was last year recognised as geographical indication (GI) product of Bangladesh.