The hilsa fish is on the brink of extinction because of migration barriers, poppulation and over-fishing. It is soon possible that anyone who buys or sells the fish weighing more than 500gms can be arrested. The state of West Bengal is planning to introduce this provision under penal code very soon. Chandranath Sinha, the State fisheries minister said, “The proposal was floated at a meeting of the fisheries department and we are speaking to the home department regarding the same to bring about provisions in CrpC and IPC.
Moreover, we are taking all possible steps to ensure that the population of Hilsa is protected” as told to Indian Express. With the introduction of the proposed provision, hilsa might very soon become the first fish to get legal protection.
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The hilsa that is also known as the Indian Shad migrates to the Bay of Bengal every monsoon for breeding. This process traditionally sustained the hilsa fishery, but all changed when the fragmentation of the river blocked the migration of the mature fish. The Central Inland Fisheries research Institute (CIFRI) did an assessment of the production trends of hilsa from 1961 to 2013, which showed a significant decline in the annual production from 36 tonnes to 0.9 tonnes.
In the year 2013 the West Bengal government issued notification about the control and conservation of the hilsa population. It laid down prohibitions on catching of the fish using a gill net having mesh below 90mm, prohibited catching, transport or sale of small hilsa. Five hilsa sanctuaries were also declared on the Hooghly river from Farakka to Sagar, covering a stretch of 250 km and fishing on this has been banned between June-August and October-December.