When Mahasweta Bose goes to the fish market, she has more than one curry in mind. Along with the Bangladeshi moroula maach er muitha, where tiny Indian carplet float in a spicy curry, she’s also got her eyes on hilsa and rohu. The former would once crop up in delightful numbers during the monsoons—a three-kilo-star that you’d have to tug home. The latter, fried until crunchy, with salt and turmeric, was a great snack with beer. But when she visits markets today, the apathy leaves a bad taste in her mouth. In a bid to make the best of a depleting supply, fishmongers have been selling juvenile fish for the past few years—a pattern that is completely unsustainable.
Read | Ode to Fish in Norway
The story doesn’t end at Mrs Bose’s local market in Jadavpur. Across India’s east and west coasts, marine life face varied struggles. Large dams block sea fish from swimming upstream to spawn in rivers, plus reduce freshwater at deltas. Overeating leads to overfishing, as trawlers and fishermen spend more time at sea to increase their output, often at the risk of other species who become collateral damage as bycatch. Their natural migration patterns are also interrupted. Smaller mesh-size nets are now illegally used to increase the catch, which trap juvenile fish. It’s a dangerous game that has no immediate fix on the supplier’s end, which is why consumers must pay more attention to their buying habits.
Read | The Chinese Paddlefish is Now Extinct