However, vendors predicted that a steady supply would definitely bring the price down. A total of 1,450 tonnes of hilsa will hit the city’s markets in various quantities by October 10.
Lake Market, which received only 600kg of the Padma hilsa, garnered a lot of attention since morning. “Hilsa weighing between 1.2kg and 1.3kg sold for Rs 1,800/kg while those weighing between 1.4kg and 1.5kg changed hands for Rs 2,000 a kilogram. Fish weighing over 1.5kg cost Rs 2,400 to Rs 2,500 a kg,” said Amar Das, a fish trader at Lake Market.
The Sheikh Hasina government on Friday temporarily removed the ban on hilsa export after eight years. “For the first lot, every big retail market received 600kg-700kg. We hope that in the next few days, the prices will start dipping with the demand-supply gap narrowing. However, despite the price, 80% of our stocks vanished in a few hours,” said Bijoy Sahu, joint secretary of Maniktala Fish Market.
Howrah Wholesale Fish Market Association secretary Syed Anwar Maqsood said such a huge consignment of Hilsa from Bangladesh came after a long wait. “Last year only 500 tonnes of Hilsa came to Kolkata as a gift and flew off the shelves within a few hours,” he added.
Hilsa catch has consistently been poor in coastal Bengal for the last few years while the supply of Hilsa in Bangladesh remained admiringly high. “We are fully responsible for this. We have killed the golden goose, by fishing for the juvenile hilsa with fine nets. Bangladesh, on the other hand, nurtured the juveniles by strictly restricting fishing activities. Hilsa used to bring us fortune. But with increasing pollution and fishing activities, that has started evading us,” said Satinath Patra, secretary of Fishermen’s Association in Kakdwip, Bengal’s largest fishing harbour.
However, a sizeable number of fish vendors in three major retail fish markets said that the quantity is not enough to cater to the high demand. “Before the ban, 6,000 tonnes to 7,000 tonnes of hilsa used to come to Kolkata. However, the temporary scrapping of the ban is very significant for us,” a vendor said.