Bengal fishermen net year's first Hilsa haul

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Kolkata, Jul 18 (PTI) Fishermen in West Bengal's South 24 Parganas district have netted this year's first Hilsa haul of around 400 kg in the last two days, an office-bearer of a fishermen's organisation said on Sunday.

Some trawlers from Kakdwip, the largest fishing hub in the state, have netted the haul.

'Of the 200-250 trawlers venturing into the mouth of Hooghly River, eight-nine netted around 50 kg fish each,' Bijan Maity, general secretary of Kakdwip Matsya Unnayan Samity, the apex body of fishermen and trawler owners in the area, told PTI.

Noting that this time of the year is conducive to catch Hilsa as the fish swims into the river from the sea to lay eggs, Maity said most of the caught fish weighed between 650-800 gm, while some were heavier than 1 kg.

Maity said fish shorter than 23 cm or weighing below 600 gm are released into the water.

'We hope that yield will increase in the next few days due to conducive weather conditions,' he said.

Maity said that the number of trawlers venturing into the sea to catch Hilsa has dipped by 50 per cent, from around 5,000 in 2018-19 to 2,500 in 2020-21.

'The Hilsa haul has come down drastically due to several factors like climate change, frequent cyclones and pollution,' he said.

The diesel price rise has also increased the monthly cost of operating a trawler from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.5 lakh, Maity said, adding not many are able to recover the costs due to lesser yield.

Besides registration, every trawler must have a remote-sensing distress device connected with the Coast Guard, and can have a maximum of 17-18 fishermen on board.

Senior TMC leader from Kakdwip, Manturam Pakhira, said that many small trawlers catch small Hilsa, an act prohibited by both the Centre and the state government, and fishermen are being sensitised to discontinue the practice to conserve the fish.

'This is a challenge as over 40 per cent of the inhabitants of Kakdwip depend on fishing in some way or the other,' he added. PTI SUS ACD ACD

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