Scientists at the Central Inland Capture Fisheries Research Institute (CICFRI) at Barrackpore near Calcutta have successfully achieved artificial fertilisation of hilsa, whose numbers had dwindled following the construction of the Farakka barrage in 1975. The barrage had led to the collapse of the commercially important hilsa fishery in the upper parts of the Ganga.
In hilsa hatcheries set up at Farakka, hatchlings artificially reared in freshwater ponds have now been released above and below the barrage.
CICFRI director S P Aiyar claims that restocking depleted stretches of rivers with artificial hilsa seed has proved to be effective in compensating for the destruction of breeding grounds caused by environmental changes such as pollution from industrial and sewage effluents and construction of dams. Combined with better designed nets, "the impact of developmental activities can be lessened without compromising genuine developmental needs," says Aiyar.