Hilsa fish absent for almost 50 years may make comeback in Uttar Pradesh’s menu
Hilsa is a highly sought-after fish in West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, and Odisha, with prices ranging from Rs 1,200 to Rs 3,000 per kilogram
An Indian chef prepares a special dish of the fish locally called ‘Elish’ during a Hilsa Festival organised by an authentic Bengali restaurant in Siliguri, West Bengal – Image Credit: Getty Images
Due to the Farakka Barrage in West Bengal, Hilsa fish virtually disappeared from the dining tables of Prayagraj and other Uttar Pradesh cities. But now, there is a possibility that fish connoisseurs could enjoy fresh Hilsa once again.
About 30,000 rare Hilsa fish, collected from the lower portion of the Farakka Barrage, were released by the authorities in the Ganga River upstream.
Shoals of this prized fish have now been spotted in Mirzapur (one of the districts in UP).
Sandeep Behera, an advisor to the Union Jal Shakti ministry’s National Mission for Clean Ganga, told PTI, “The fact that the Hilsa has reached Mirzapur is an indication that the Ganga is gradually getting cleaned.
“Oxygen levels have also risen because the Hilsa moves very fast and it requires a lot of oxygen.”
Sandeep Behera, who was present at a seminar organised by Nehru Gram Bharati (Deemed) University and ICAR-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, Barrackpore, remarked that a fish ladder on the Farakka Barrage had previously facilitated the upstream movement of Hilsa fish.
However, the ladder’s gate has been non-functional for years. Behera stated that the gate is now being replaced to allow the fish to swim upstream in the Hooghly River which is in West Bengal.
A fish ladder is a structure installed on the wall of a barrage to provide a passage for migrating fish.
Also known as the “queen of fish,” Hilsa is a popular delicacy due to its distinctive flavour and aroma.
It can be enjoyed by frying or cooking it in mustard sauce.
Despite being a saltwater fish native to the tropics, Hilsa can survive in rivers and estuaries.
According to Behera, Hilsa is a saltwater fish that lays its eggs in freshwater. However, the construction of the barrage in 1971-72 had obstructed its upstream migration for the fish to lay eggs.
He said that the tender for building the fish ladder has been issued and the process is expected to be completed in six to seven months. It is anticipated that the new ladder will be operational by the end of this year.
Hilsa is a highly sought-after fish in West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, and Odisha, with prices ranging from Rs 1,200 to Rs 3,000 per kilogram.
Hilsa, a highly esteemed delicacy that can be fried, smoked, or cooked in mustard sauce, typically migrates upstream in the Ganga, Brahmaputra, and Irrawaddy rivers from the Bay of Bengal during the monsoon season for spawning.
This fish can also be found in the Arabian Sea, where it swims up rivers in Gujarat and Pakistan’s Sindhu, as well as in the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Vietnam, and China seas.
According to a 2017 report by the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, the fish’s peak upstream migration occurs from July to October or November, coinciding with the arrival of monsoon rains.
With inputs from PTI