Gone are the days when Hilsha population gave all the indications that the national and most favourite fish was on the verge of extinction. Pragmatic planning with the natural breeding of the fish pursued consistently has now revived the species to almost the level of its heyday. The country's population has increased over the years and still the seasonal catch of Hilsha is enough to modestly meet the need of the nation. No longer is the price of a fish forbiddingly pricey even for a family of modest means. Looked perfunctorily, the development on the Hilsha front may appear somewhat miraculous. But there is no miracle here. The authorities have campaigned for saving the Hilsha fries during the fish's breeding or spawning season. A ban is slapped on catching of the fish for over a month each year. For the past few years, the ban is enforced quite strictly and it has yielded great dividends.
Following this theory of 'no catch' in order to allow the fries known here as jatka to attain maturity, a National Jatka Week is going to be observed from March 16 next. All the 36 districts boasting Hilsha habitats will observe the week simultaneously with the aim to give a great go to the life of the new breed of jatka. The National Taskforce of Hilsha Resource Development will be responsible for coordinating the campaign. This year's slogan, "Kono Jal Felbona, Jatka-Ilish Dahrbona (No throwing of net, no trapping of jatka)". However, it is not quite understandable why only a week's programme has been chalked out. True, the ban is imposed on Hilsha catching on a hypothetical assumption of the species' breeding period spanning more than a month. It may not be hundred per cent accurate but more or less covers the breeding season; or else, the fish population would not have increased by leaps and bounds.
The fact is there have been some dedicated people who have tried their best to save the fish. Also the authorities were willing to listen to their suggestions and acted likewise. The problem arose when fishermen whose livelihood depends on Hilsha have to sit idle for a considerably long time during the ban. They suffered on account of paucity of the fish and had no savings. So the government had to provide financial help for them to tide over the critical period. But with the increase of the fish in rivers, their income is rising too. However, as of now, the poorest among them still require financial help.
Now that the genome sequencing of Hilsha has been completed, a new horizon has opened before Hilsha researchers and experts. They will be able to know many of the secrets which would have never been possible without this scientific breakthrough. The unravelling of crucial facts will open up further avenues for augmenting Hilsha production. Developments such as this will help not only save the fish but may also improve their quality and size. Let the new knowledge have its wise application for Hilsha breeding.
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