The unusual warm ocean currents in the Pacific due to the 'El Nino' phenomenon could be one of the reasons why the famed hilsa fish might remain in short supply.Hilsa is a silvery tropical fish savoured in India and Bangladesh and is regarded as the quintessential Bengali delicacy. However, this year with experts predicting over 50 percent less rainfall, seafood lovers might be left disappointed. "Not much of Ilish are entering the sweet water right now. El Nino could be one of the factors as well as other environmental gradients that act as cues for the fish to come," says Saptarshi Biswas, a scientist at the state government's directorate of fisheries."We are expecting an increased volume in August-September," he said.Biswas also added that officials were trying to curb the indiscriminate fishing of the juveniles and the brood fish (mature fish used for producing eggs or spawners)."We have imposed certain restrictions on the fishing gear but since the juveniles sell at a lower price than the mature ones, they are in more demand. Therefore, for the fishermen, catching juveniles is more profitable," he said. The department has been trying to get the fishermen to adopt alternative livelihoods. Like salmon, hilsa migrates from seawater to fresh water to breed. After laying its eggs, the fish dies and the newly-hatched ones go back to the sea and repeat the cycle."Rainfall brings about a mix between salt water and fresh water that creates temperature difference, a necessary criterion for fish to migrate to these pockets, but because of the long dry spell, the ambient environment will not be available to them," says Tuhin Ghosh, joint director, School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University.
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