Hilsa on way out?

Kendrapara: Is the delicious hilsa on its way out?  A drastic drop in the catch of hilsa has brought into sharp focus the endangered state of the sea fish.
 
With the yield progressively gowing down over the years in Odisha, the price has shot through the roof making the fish out of reach of the common people.
 
A kg of hilsa is selling at as high as Rs 800-1,500 in Paradip and the adjoining market places.
 
The same story repeats in Bengal where a two to three kg variety of the fish has nearly vanished from the market – a trend witnessed for the last few years. Whatever small variety is available, it is prohibitively costly.
 
"The sea going fishermen dispose of their yield through auction in the Paradip fishing harbour," said Sumant Kumar Biswal, chief of All-Odisha Tralwer Operators Association.
 
While nearly 10 per cent catch is sold off in local markets of Paradip civil township, Kujang, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur, the bulk of the produce is despatched to Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, he said.
 
The hilsa from Paradip is also making its way to Sambalpur, Jharsuguda and Rourkela.
 
Unlike in the past, the supply to West Bengal, mainly Kolkata, has almost come to a grinding halt this year, solely due to the higher price, Biswal said.
 
On the other hand, traders from Vishakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Rajmahundry have shown interest in procuring hilsa from Paradip.
 
The supply to Andhra Pradesh is fetching good price too. While in the wholesale the hilsa fetches Rs 500-600 a kg in general, those despatched to Andhra Pradesh are sold at a premium of Rs 150 a kg, he said.
 
"The drop in the yield is unprecedented. Never before, the Hilsa catch had fallen to such a low level. Those who had pinned their hopes on bountiful catch are left thoroughly disappointed," All-Odisha traditional Fish Workers, general secretary, Narayan Haldar, said. .