By Sanjay Borkar
Panaji, June 19 (IANS) Fearing that a fish famine could pose a serious threat to the availability of the staple food of the coastal state, the Goa government apart from notifying the “Goa State Mariculture Policy 2020” to carry out open sea cage fish culture, has also urged the NIO to suggest adoption of modern methods for production of fish.
Some 2475 boats and 897 trawlers are registered with the fisheries department for fishing activities.
According to the fisheries department statistics, while 23,147 tonnes of sardine were caught in 2018, this dropped to 6771 tonnes in 2020. In 2019, it was 10,618 tonnes.
The same is the case with mackerel, another staple fish. While in 2018, 35,699 tonnes of mackerel were caught, in 2020 the figure dropped to 25,325 tonnes. Apart from using mackerel for curry and frying, mackerel pickle is also prepared in many houses in Goa.
To cater to the fish needs of the populace, it is also imported from other states, which is also purchased by the fish processing units.
To deal with the fish famine situation, the government apart from taking action against illegal fishing has focused on resolving issues pertaining to this business.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has urged the scientists and students of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) to suggest ways to increase fish productivity by adopting modern methods.
The NIO has played a vital role in increasing the production of green mussels in Goa, training for which was given to stakeholders.
According to marine experts, pollution near Goa’s river mouths and in the waters off the state’s coastline as well as over-fishing using banned practices like bull trawling and LED fishing, could lead to a fish famine in the state. The Opposition benches, during the last term of the BJP government in the state, were vociferous in the Assembly in demanding action against illegal fishing.
The fishermen from Goa are also demanding action against illegal practices used to catch fish in the sea.
Goa Fisheries Minister Nilkanth Halarnkar, had earlier said the Central government has sanctioned Rs 400 crore for setting up cage fishing infrastructure to boost the coastal state’s catch of fish.
The state is known for its seafood, which is sought after by the eight million plus tourists who visit Goa every year.
The overkill of fish for export and to cater to the hospitality industry in the tourism-oriented state as well as rising sea temperatures has resulted in a fish famine of sorts in the waters off Goa, driving the prices of locally consumed staple fishes through the roof.
Ibrahim Maulana, president of the Margao wholesale fish market in South Goa and the only wholesale fish market in the state, said that illegal fishing should be stopped.
“On Saturday we got around 50 tonne of fish from Andhra Pradesh,” Maulana said.
According to sources, fish in Goa is brought from Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and also from Maharashtra.