Kolkata: Fish eaters across the country are in for a pleasant surprise amid the COVID-19 gloom. Fishermen in West Bengal have exuded hope of a bumper ‘hilsa’ yield this year. This is because of the dip in economic activities in the seas over the past three months. Movement of ships, boats, barges were all restricted due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
With monsoon having arrived, many of the fishermen have already ventured out with their trawlers. They are trying their best to lay hands on the prized ‘silver crop’. The fish is a nonpareil delicacy that can be savoured when fried or cooked in mustard sauce.
Near-zero commercial activity
“As there was near-zero commercial activity in the seas and the rivers no industrial effluents were released into the waters. The last three months the water has not been polluted. Fish breeding which is common during this season, is bound to pick up pace,” said Sunderban Development Minister Manturam Pakhira. “Since June 14, several fishermen have set sail. The catch is expected to be higher this time, compared to the past two years,” Pakhira added.
Ganga meets Bay of Bengal near Sunderbans in South 24 Parganas district. That confluence happens to be the breeding ground for ‘hilsa’. The fish moves upstream from the seas to the river around this time of the year. Most of the 12,000 big trawlers in Kakdwip belt of the district are expected to hit the seas over the next few days.
“We can give you an approximate figure of the yield after 15 days. One thing is for sure, there was barely any vessel movement during the lockdown. It reduced water pollution, and aquatic life remained largely undisturbed. So we are expecting a bumper ‘hilsa’ yield’, Pakhira said.
Officials of the ‘Kakdwip Fishermen Association’ said anything between 32,000 and 35,000 metric tonne would be considered a good catch. “Last year, the yield did not cross 12,000 metric tonne due to factors such as pollution and late arrival of the monsoon. We are positive this year will be different,” said an official. “This year, the fish will be bigger in size and probably tastier,” he added.
“Our catch is sold across Bengal, and in other states of India. We are hopeful of tickling the taste buds of all those who like fish. We are sure that a smile will appear on their faces when they eat hilsa,” said a fisherman. “We had suffered losses last year. This year, we are expecting a good and profitable catch,” he added.