Joint Efforts towards Re-establishing Hilsa Fishery in River Ganga after Four Decades

ICAR-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, Barrackpore in association with Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), Central Water Commission (CWC), National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and Farakka Barrage Authority (FBA) under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation are being involved in re-establishing HILSA fishery in the middle stretches of river Ganga viz. at Allahabad, Banaras, Patna, Bhagalpur and Farakka, since 2016.

Joint Efforts towards Re-establishing Hilsa Fishery in River Ganga after Four Decades  Joint Efforts towards Re-establishing Hilsa Fishery in River Ganga after Four Decades

Hamilton (1822) first recorded the hilsa near Kanpur and Agra in the river Ganga and Yamuna. The species was forming a good fishery in the river Ganga till construction of the Farakka barrage during 1975. Soon after the commission of Farakka barrage, the middle stretches of river Ganga particularly from Farakka to Allahabad experienced a sharp decline in Hilsa catch and reached to almost Zero in the recent years.

During a recent study carried out by ICAR-CIFRI, several recommendations have been brought out and provided to the policy makers and managers of important water stakeholders such as CWC, IWAI, and NMCG for re-establishment of Hilsa fishery in river Ganga. Two important recommendations were (1) Two fish locks provided in the Farakka Barrage should be operated regularly during monsoon months for upstream migration of the species to rejuvenate hilsa fishery in the upstream of Ganga river (2) A bypass channel should be created between the feeder canal and upstream of the Ganga river in the western side of the existing navigational channel to facilitate natural upstream migration of hilsa from the Hooghly-Bhagirathi river”.

Realizing the importance of river biodiversity and Hilsa fishery, under the chairmanship of Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport & Highways, Water resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Shri Nitin Gadkari, two high level meetings were held in presence of representatives from IWAI, CWC, FBA and ICAR-CIFRI and it was decided that ICAR-CIFRI would provide scientific knowledge on Hilsa behavior and migration pattern for suitable design of fish passage.

Dr. B. K. Das, Director, ICAR-CIFRI and his team provided all the required biological information on Hilsa for smooth upstream migration in the river Ganga through the navigational lock, which is scheduled to be operated by IWAI in June 2019 announced during recent visit of the Union Minister Shri Nitin Gadkari to the Prayagraj. This new navigational lock facility will support in migration of Hilsa from Hooghly-Bhagirathi River to main channel of river Ganga for the FIRST time.

(Source: ICAR-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, Barrackpore)