Rajya Sabha

August 6, 2019

Abir Ranjan Biswas makes a Zero Hour mention on controlling excessive fishing 

Abir Ranjan Biswas makes a Zero Hour mention on controlling excessive fishing 


Sir, fish is inextricably linked with Bengali culture. There is a fish which finds a place a various social customs of the Bengalis, right from religious offerings to celebration of the New Year or be it  any other social customs. Therefore it is of paramount importance to Bengali culture. 

Recently there has been a study by the Jadavpur University School of Oceanographic Studies suggesting that the hilsa has been over-exploited in its habitat in the northern part of the Bay of Bengal and the estuaries and tributaries that drain into it. In the part of the Bay of Bengal adjacent to Bengal, the exploitation has reached such a level that the rate of fishing now far exceeds the rate of reproduction, resulting in imminent danger of extinction. Considering this, the School of Oceanographic Studies has suggested certain things. 

We know that the fish is primarily caught by twelve communities residing along the rivers, who belong to scheduled caste communities. They are facing problems because of this over-exploitation of hilsa. The Centre and the State Government have taken up their issues. However most of the efforts have only been on paper, and the immediate need is for the Centre and the State to join hands to enforce the ban strictly. Otherwise the picture looks very bleak. 

Sir, there is also a figure that the above-mentioned school has suggested regarding the maximum amount of hilsa that can be allowed to be caught, and that figure is 25,440 tonnes. This is the maximum sustainable yield. However, this rule again is only on paper. The level of fish being caught needs to be strictly monitored. 

The Bangladesh Government has taken steps, and we are also working with the Bangladesh Government. We need to step up the processes and ensure that the rules are being strictly followed. At the same time, we also need to provide assistance to the poor fishermen with alternative sources of living, otherwise they will continue to catch the fish. So I urge the Government to join hands with the Bengal Government, take suggestions from the Bangladesh Government and help the people out so that the ban on catching hilsa can be properly executed. Thank you, Sir.