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Hilsa scarce as demand high for Pahela Baishakh in Sylhet

hilasaPrices of hilsa, which is considered a great delicacy during celebration of Pahela
Baishakh, have skyrocketed in the retail markets of Sylhet city on the back of the fish’s high demand and short supply over the week ahead of the festival. As part of the programme to welcome the Bangla New Year, different organisations in the city, like elsewhere, entertain their guests with traditional ‘panta bhat’ (watery rice) and fried hilsa in the morning.
But this time they have chosen to drop hilsa from their menu as things have gone haywire in the fish markets sending prices of the silvery delicacy to a dizzying height.
Production of hilsa has been on decline in different rivers, including the Padma and Meghna, and coastal fishing areas of the Bay of Bengal in the current season.
The supply of hilsa in the local markets has reduced to a great extent, resulting in escalation of prices of the silver fish.
The fish fry and the young fish cannot grow mature due to their indiscriminate netting.
Common people are not being interested at all to buy the fish as it has become a high-priced buy, affordable only to a few fortunate.
Increased demand due to Pahela Baishakh amid shortage of supply has caused the price hike, said hilsa trader Jasim Uddin Molla.
Nijam uddin hilsa retailer of Bondor Bazar in the city, said, “Now a hilsa weighing up to 600 grams is selling at Tk 700-800 per kg, a hilsa weighing up to 800-900 grams at Tk 900-1,000 per kg while the fish weighing up to 1,000 grams or over is priced at
Tk 1,400-1,600 per kg.”
He also said, “Last year, hilsa price rose to the range of Tk 400-500 per kg on the occasion of the new year day, but this year it rose to Tk1,000 per kg,”
Foysal Ahmed hilsha trader of Kazir Bazar in the city said, “Fishermen are busy catching large quantities of hilsha to make more money, but most of them are frustrated due to poor catch of this delicious fish.”
He also said that each hilsa is sold at an exorbitant price in Sylhet city as bulk of the fish is smuggled out to India.
District fisheries officer of Sylhet said catching hilsa fish depends on favourable condition, but the weather condition of March-April period of this year was not very favourable.
In the month of Chaitra in the Bengali calendar, rainfall occurred only for a few days.
He hoped that, if weather remains favourable, a large number of hilsa will be caught by the fishermen.
DFO also said that according to an act of 1950, catching and selling of fish fries are punishable offences.