If the heading looks confusing, think of the national icons like the national bird of India, or the national song of our country, or suchlike. Agreed, there are no equivalences of national identity at the state level. Is there a constitutional bar? Perhaps not as Hilsa proves.
As it transpires the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the Lucknow-based National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources has asked every state in the country to ‘adopt’ a fish. If the country has a national bird and a national animal, why not there be state fish!
Well, why not? And so Bengal’s state fish is Hilsa, and Tripura’s Pabda. Haryana’s is Kalbasu (guess it is Kalbous as we in Bengal call it), Kerals’s Karimeen, and Uttar Pradesh’s Chital (didn’t know Chital is available aplenty there).
Golden Mahaseer is the chosen fish of the 3 hilly states of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal, while Orissa has chosen Mahanadi Mahaseer as its state fish. It could have very well chosen Parse because I’ve heard that on the way to Bhitarkanika sea resort the canals are full with this tasty variety (and of course estuarine crocs).
As for Bengal’s Hilsa, the annual catch of 25,000 metric tonnes proves insufficient to meet the demand. This year the Hilsa price refuses to budge downward from Rs.250 a kg, that too the Kolaghat / Diamond Harbor variety.
The government this year banned catching sub 500 gm Hilsa by forcing the fishermen to suitably increase the mesh size of their nets. It has also asked to stop catching the fish prior to monsoon between April 15 and June 30 so that there is enough time for their breeding.
Now that the Hilsa will be declared the state fish, money will be spent to do research on its population, identify the different strains, and also to study its genetic structure. All of these are targeted to ensure that Hilsa as a specie doesn’t slip into oblivion.
[Collated from today’s HT]