Hilsa has become the king of fish due to its incomparable taste, smell, and nutritious oil. The most interesting thing is that Hilsa does not have a permanent address. Hilsa fish is locally called 'Ilish' and its scientific name is 'Tenualosa Ilisha'. These are migratory fish, sometimes also called international fish. Hilsa roams the oceans of the world under various names. But Bangladesh produces around 86% of the world's Hilsa. And Padma's Hilsa, the universally tasty Ilish is our pride. Bangladesh has given the status of national fish to Hilsa. Furthermore, the recognition as Geographical Indication (GI) product of Bangladesh, Hilsa is now on the menu in different countries as Bangladeshi food.
History of Hilsa Ilisha
The exact history of Hilsa is unknown. Even though there are much bigger fish than hilsa, it is the king of fish. It is said that hilsa has been roaming freely in the ocean since ancient times. Hilsa's wandering is also quite interesting, from the saltwater of the sea to the freshwater of the river. From there, back to the saltwater of the sea. During the breeding season or during the egg-laying season, the male and female hilsa flock out to sea for a favorable environment. Eggs are laid in the freshwater of the river. The baby hilsa grows in fresh water and gradually gets ready to go to the ocean.
Hilsa swims in the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf, Java Sea, South China Sea, Tonkin Bay, West, and Central Pacific Ocean. The British researcher Hamilton Buchanan named it Hilsa in 1882 while researching fish in the Bay of Bengal. Later, two researchers named Fischer and Bionic classified Hilsa as 'Tenualosa.' Tenualosa is found in five species in the world. Of which three species match in Bangladesh. Hilsa (T-Ilsha), Chandana Hilsa (T-Tolly), and Gupta Hilsa (H-Ki-Li). Among them, Hilsa found in the Padma is world-famous.
What is special in Hilsa Fish?
This fish is excellent in taste and smell. Also rich in food quality. It contains high levels of carbs, fats, and minerals as well as omega-three fatty acids, amino acids, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamins A, D, B. Hilsa is characterized by a silver torpedo-shaped fish. There is a slight blackness on the back. Baby hilsa has lined spots on the body. Hilsa takes eight months to a year to mature after hatching from eggs.
Mature hilsa can grow to a maximum length of 63 cm or more than two feet and weigh a maximum of three / three and a half kg. However, usually, the fish is caught in the net before it reaches 2 kg.
At present Hilsa is found in about 100 rivers of Bangladesh. In particular, the main rivers of the Padma and Meghna basins, its tributaries, bays, and coastal areas of the Bay of Bengal are home to Hilsa.
Prospect of Hilsa Fish for Bangladesh
Hilsa is found all year round in the lower reaches of the Meghna River at Kalabadar, Tertulia, Arial Kha, as well as at Bishkhali, Payra, Rupsha, Shiba, Pashur, Lohadia, Andharamanik rivers, bays, and seashores.
In addition, the availability of hilsa in the Padma has increased due to the establishment of a hilsa sanctuary in the lower reaches of the Padma and the ban on netting hilsa on certain days of the year.
Over the years, hilsa production has increased significantly. Hence it contributes to the country's economy greatly. Hilsa contributes 1% to the gross domestic product (GDP). About 5 lakh people are directly involved in hilsa, and 20 to 25 lakh people are directly or indirectly involved, according to the Fisheries Department. In 2016, Hilsa of Bangladesh had been recognized as a GI (Geographical Indication) product.
It is difficult to get accurate information about the quantity of hilsa export. According to the Department of Fisheries, out of 75,000 tons of fish and fish products exported from Bangladesh every year and among those 24,000 tons are frozen fish. It can be assumed that most of these frozen fish are hilsa fish.