The Bengali’s love for fish is famous. For many a Bengali, lunch and dinner without a piece of fish on the plate is unimaginable. Now to add more variety to the plate, three new types of fish are being cultivated in West Bengal. The cultivation by the state fisheries department has been started on an experimental basis. If successful, about which department officials are very positive, cultivation would be opened up to all interested people.
The three varieties – silver pompano, changosh and cobia – are being cultivated through the method of cross-breeding. Silver pompano is akin to the ever-popular pompfret whereas changosh is a type of lobster. Pomfrets and lobsters have always been popular with Bengalis. Cobia, which looks like catfish, is also a very delicious fish, which was not available in markets in the state earlier.
All three are saline water fishes. The state government procured the hatchlings from the Channai research centre of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). Hatchlings of these fishes from the research centre have been successfully cultivated in other parts of the country.
Silver pompano, which tastes similar to pomfret, is, as the name suggests, silvery in colour. It can acquire a weight of 450-550 g within three months, and by seven months, can weigh 7 kg. 76,000 hatchlings of these are being cultivated at Alampur near Digha. 40,000 hatchlings of changosh are being cultivated near Henry Island in the Sundarbans. A fully formed changosh can weigh about one-and-a-half kilograms. The delicious cobia, which can weigh between three to four kilograms, is also being cultivated near Digha, 36,000 hatchlings of them.
Aquaculture is a very profitable industry in the state, as besides the domestic demand, there is also a huge export demand, and so more and more are getting into it. Being delicious and also being boneless (unlike the river fishes), all the three new varieties have a huge export potential too; so the interest in cultivating these is expected to boom. Despite aquaculture, at present, Bengal has to depend on Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand to meet its daily demand for fish. So the expected new cultivation should lead to a reduction in this dependence.
Now for some more delicious tidings. All three varieties are expected to reach the Kolkata markets before the Pujas. That’s surely something to look forward to for a Bengali. Bon appétit!
(From left) Silver pompano, cobia
Written by Anushtup Haldar for Team M3.tv