Kolkata: To prevent the rapid decline in numbers of hilsa in Indian waters, West Bengal scientists have proposed creating sanctuaries to thwart indiscriminate fishing and promote breeding of the fish - considered a delicacy in Bengali cuisine.
A study by researchers from India and Bangladesh has identified three breeding grounds in the state where sanctuaries can be built to augment free breeding of the prized fish.
"We have identified three breeding sites in Diamond Harbour, Triveni and Farakka where sanctuaries could be built so that the fish can breed freely without the interference of fishermen. We have requested the state government to build sanctuaries there," Utpal Bhaumik, a member of the research team, told IANS.
Hilsa, or ilish as it is known here in Bengal, like salmon, migrates from seawater to freshwater to breed. After laying eggs, the current generation of the fish dies and the newly-hatched ones go back to the sea and repeat the same cycle again.
The fish is expensive but is widely consumed in India and Bangladesh, particularly on special occasions, in a variety of delectable dishes.
Its price has shot up due to its dwindling numbers in Indian waters.
Bhaumik, a retired divisional head, Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute at Barrackpore here, explained such an initiative would also deter fishermen from trapping the offsprings.
"Juvenile hilsa are caught by fishermen which also contributes to their dwindling numbers. The young ones would be protected from them," he said.
In February, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said her government was planning to set up a facility for doing research on the hilsa.