Dead fish off Australian coast – not a pretty sight! [Image source]
It’s that time of the year when the leases of ponds are renewed, and if there is going to be a change, the old leaseholder tries to drain out all the fishes before transferring the lease. The new leaseholder releases fresh rounds of baby fish and wait till monsoon when his stock becomes bigger enough to be caught and sold in the market.
Selling fish is a big moneymaking venture in Bengal, and so what occasionally happens is that if the old leaseholder or a new bidder looses out to buy the lease, he takes recourse to unusual means to vent frustration. Often that means mixing some type of plant extracts in the pond that increases toxicity level of the water, as a result of which the fish fails to breathe and dies soon.
Early this week something of this sort allegedly happened in 2 large ponds, one in Alipore in the heart of the city, and a bigger one in the suburb of New Barrackpore. In the latter case, the new leaseholder who earlier paid Rs.1.2 lakh to buy the lease from state fisheries department, has lodged complaint with the police (refer TT news).
Even though they are meant as catch for selling in the market, dead fish floating on water, some gasping for air, presents a ghastly sight. Such are bad days for any fish lover, and even the anglers who enjoy the thrill of catching live fish with all the skill at their command.
Talking about fish, the beloved, prized Hilsa is said to have started congregating in plenty in estuarine rivers of Bangladesh since last 2 weeks. It has rained heavily off Bangladesh coast last week following a cyclone, and this has reduced the salinity level at the river mouth, enough to lure hordes of Hilsa to enter river waters, which they do to swim upstream as far as necessary till they feel the water is conducive for laying eggs.
The first batch of freshly caught Hilsa has arrived at Kolkata wholesale markets, though when they’ll adorn the retail markets is anybody’s guess.
Trading Hilsa is a very lucrative business, and constitutes sizeable earnings for several large fish importers, mainly Kolkata-based. The same goes for exporters in Bangladesh.
Last year at one time because of a typical change in import rules and subsequent ignorance of babus in ministry of commerce in Delhi, many truckloads of Hilsa were held up at the border for several days. Since Hilsa is highly perishable, this has meant a huge loss of business for fish traders.
Fortunately, this year the rules haven’t come in the way of Hilsa coming to Kolkata markets thus far. It’s now an anxious wait for their arrival at local markets. That perhaps may happen just ahead of Jamai Shoshthi in the beginning of June.