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Hilsa Fish

 

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Hilsa is the national fish of Bangladesh. Hilsa shad contributing 30% of total fish production of Bangladesh. About 40% fishermen of the country depending on Hilsa fishery directly or indirectly. Three separate species of Hilsa Shad are found in Bay of Bengal, they are Hilsa kelee, Hilsa toli and Hilsa ilisha now Tenualosa ilisha.Tenualosa ilisha is considered as anadromous species while the other two species are restricted to marine environment.

Hilsa-hilsa(Hilsa fish)-National fish of Bangladesh

Hilsa-hilsa(Hilsa fish)-National fish of Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, Hlish is mainly caught in the Padma (lower Ganges), Meghna (lower Brahmaputra), and Jamuna rivers. Those from the Padma are considered to be the best in taste.

Hlish is an oily fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Recent experiments have shown its beneficial effects in decreasing cholesterol level in rats and insulin level.

During the commencement of the south-west monsoon and consequent flooding of all the rivers, Hilsa shad starts its spawning migration upstream. A mature Hilsa shad with a length ranging from 30-55 cm lays 0.1-2.0 million eggs, the eggs are deposited in fresh water, and hatching takes place in about 23 to 26 hours at an average temperature of 23oC. The newly hatched larvae is recorded as 2.3 mm in size and the larvae and juveniles make their way downstream to the sea during a period of several months, feeding and growing on the way. At this stage of their life cycle they are locally known as “Jatka”. Jatka the juveniles of Hilsa shad from 4-15 cm are widely available during the period from February to May in the foreshore and riverine water of Padma, Meghna and other deltaic rivers of Bangladesh.

Usually Jatka grazes for five to six months age in fresh water before they migrate to seawater. They are caught in large amount using current nets of small mesh size during their grazing period in rivers as well as in sea shore by artisanal fishermen to sell them in local markets, calling them “Chapilla” instead of “Jatka”, which is a different species of fish, and thus exploiting this resource in a way. According to a report published through Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institutte,over 3700 metric tons of Jatka are caught annually during their nursery season from inland rivers.

Five type of Hlish can be found worldwide. Yearly Hlish caught are 5,000,000 ton. Among them, 50%-60% are caught by Bangladesh, 15%-20% are caught by India, Pakistan and rest 5%-10% are caught by Malaysia, Thailand, China, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

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