All Goa Fishermen Forum, on Wednesday, demanded sacking of the Fisheries Minister Vinod Palyekar for allegedly taking anti-fishermen decisions.
The forum wants the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to take the fisheries portfolio.
The port folio should be entrusted to a person who has full a knowledge about the fishing activity in the state, said the forum, and added that “Palyekar cannot handle the portfolio.”
Addressing the media, members of the forum said that the Fisheries Minister do not know anything about fishing industry and keep making statements without proper knowledge and “is dancing to the tunes of the individuals with vested interest, who are taking full advantage of his innocence in handling the portfolio.”
They also alleged that the minister take decisions without taking the fishing community and stakeholders into confidence, and added that the VAT reimbursement and other incentives, which were extended to the fishermen in 2002 and 2003, should be restored immediately without any discrimination.
They stressed that no rules and regulations should be proposed without taking all the fishermen into confidence, regardless of what fishing activities they are engaged in.
They claimed that the governments in the neighbouring states give 100 per cent reimbursement while in Goa it is just 30 per cent of the oil consumption, and added that this is extended to promote fishing as fish is a rich source of proteins for the locals.
“In order to break the nexus between fish traders, middlemen and politicians, which is the root cause of artificial hike in fish prices, the government should immediately intervene and handover Margao SGPDA fish market to the fisheries department,” they demanded.
They said that if proper subsidy is given and infrastructure is put in place then they can supply fish at a cheaper rate to the Goan populace but the tragedy is that there is no subsidy and no provision of cold storages to preserve the fish during bumper catch and as such they have to export it to the neighbouring states of Kerala, and places like Karwar and Mangalore in Karnataka at a cheaper rate since it is a perishable item.
The fishermen appealed to the Chief Minister to intervene in the issue of wholesale fish market, which is allegedly illegally “being taken over by fish mafia headed by Ibrahim Moulana – a native of Karnataka, other agents and middlemen/traders.”
They alleged that this Moulana and political protectors get 10 per of the value of fish sold at the Margao whole sale market.
They further alleged that 90 of the market remains flooded with fish being brought from outside the state though ‘insulated vehicles,’ thereby discouraging the Goans from buying the fresh catch.
As the fish caught by Goa’s fishermen do not reach the market, they sell it to the middlemen and traders selling fish at the retail markets as well as house-to-house, and so the consumers have to buy it at very high rates, they added.
They alleged that while 7-8 fish exporters from outside the state get over Rs 35 to 40 crore, the owners of 2,900 Goan fishing boats and canoes get only Rs 16 crore, and added that as this has been stopped for the last 18 months, the fishermen are being harassed.
They also demanded with the government to relax the condition pertaining to Aadhar card for the labourers engaged in the fishing industry or working on trawlers.