In these areas, as part of the NMCG flagship initiatives, ICAR-CIFRI carried out a series of awareness programs on "dolphin and hilsa conservation" in February 2023 to enlighten the river-dependent fishers More than 250 active fishers, including social activities, and students residing on the banks of the lower stretches of river Ganga being aware of the dolphins and hilsa conservation with weeklong awareness programs. The awareness programs were conducted at Budge Budge ferry ghat, Pujali fish landing sites, Birlapur, and Godakhali fish landing sites (06.02.2023), Burul, Raichak, and Falta fish landing sites (07.02.2023), Diamond Harbour fish landing sites (08.02.2023), and Tyangra char fish landing sites (09.02.2023).
Dr. Basanta Kumar Das, Director, ICAR-CIFRI and PI of the NMCG project spearheaded efforts to conserve dolphin and hilsa in the river Ganga. Dr. Das emphasized the need of educating people about dolphins in his conveying message because they encounter many difficulties in India. Lower parts of the Ganga River are used to catch the valued fish hilsa with gill nets in the monsoon season (June to mid-October) and the winter season (mid-January to mid-April) (mesh sizes ranging from 65-110 mm). To ensure the long-term sustainability of this highly commercially important species, he further advised the fishers to refrain from using gill nets smaller than 90 mm, as prescribed by the Department of Fisheries, Government of West Bengal.
Local fishers were informed of various river conservation measures during the awareness campaign, such as refraining from using pesticides on horticultural and agricultural lands adjacent to the river, reforestation of the riverbank to prevent bank erosion,refraining from throwing plastic and other trash into the river, maintaining riverine biodiversity using scientific fishing gears, etc. Additionally, flyers on ‘dolphin and hilsa conservation’ were distributed to the fisheries, and villagers living along the riverbanks in various locations, along with a pictorial poster showing Ganges River fishes. The program was put together with the help of the NMCG team, and officials from the state fisheries department of West Bengal. It was supervised by Dr. B. K. Das, Director, ICAR-CIFRI, Barrackpore, and coordinated by Dr. Dibakar Bhakta, Scientist of the institute.