Paradip: The tasty hilsa was a costly delicacy for poor fish lovers for its exorbitant price and was beyond the reach of the common man. However, the variety has suddenly flooded the markets across the state since Ganesh Puja thanks to bigger catch.
The fishermen and fish traders in this port town have had their best season in last 12 years with their cumulative businesses adding up to Rs 300 crore, a report said.
About 7,200 tonne of hilsa was caught between August 26 and September 6 which is a sort of record, admitted local fish traders.
However, the catch has dropped after September 6 and the price is gradually inching up, it was learnt. Fishing of hilsa generally increases during August-September. After 2005, there was a drastic fall in production due to several reasons which made the variety much dearer.
But the catch suddenly went up since Ganesh Puja this year making fishermen work round the clock.
According to reports, it takes two days for a fisherman to go up to Barunei mouth of Mahanadi and return with the catch. The poor catch of past 12 years had disheartened the fisherman community.
But a sudden increase in hilsa population near the river mouth forced the fishermen to call their relatives from Andhra Pradesh for assistance.
The fishermen had to venture into sea to harvest hilsa. The fish was sold at 12 depots near Atharabanki. According to the traders’ account, hilsa worth Rs 2 crore was being sold a day since August 26. Some traders even didn’t get time to sleep at night, said T Ramana, a fish trader.
On the other hand, each fisherman who went for fishing has earned more than a lakh in these 12 days, it was learnt.
The fishermen, who left their native place due to poor hilsa catch, had to be called back to make some quick bucks.
Subbarao, a fish trader of Paradip, said hilsa population is more at the mouth of three rivers – Ganga, Godavari and Mahanadi. But it has been severely hit due to reasons like change in climate, increasing activities in mid-sea, nuke tests and industrial pollution, he said.
However, the greater than usual production this year is a boost for the fishermen, he added.
The season’s good catch has benefited everyone including ice traders, depot owners, boat owners, net traders and fishermen, Subbarao observed.
Meanwhile, the fishermen who came from Andhra have returned to their state. The local fishermen, however, pinned their hopes on coming new moon when the tide in sea can result in another spell of good catch. PNN