Following the raid conducted by FDA at the wholesale fish market at Fatorda in Margao in the wee hours of Thursday, fish markets in Margao and Mapusa remained shut in protest while the Panaji market had a few fish vendors doing business.
The raid in Margao was conducted a day after ‘The Navhind Times’ reported how formalin is used to preserve fish in the state. The raid lasted for almost three hours.
Following the raid, the authorities did not permit unloading of the fish as a result of which, the wholesale fish market in Margao remained shut on Thursday. The raid created a panicky situation among the fish traders. Chaos was witnessed in the wholesale market and some of the traders tried to protest as the authorities began checking the fish-laden trucks for samples.
“There were media reports that formalin is being used in the fish and sold to locals. Formalin is prohibited. We decided to check the fish and accordingly reached the wholesale fish market around 4 am. We had samples of fish drawn from 17 fish-loaded trucks and FDA chemist tested them on the spot and found the samples to be positive for formalin. We are taking the samples to a laboratory for further testing,” said a female official of FDA. She further said that the 17 fish trucks were from Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Kerala and Maharashtra.
The recently renovated SGPDA retail fish market was also kept closed from 11 am on Thursday in support of the wholesale fish market traders. “We have extended our support to the fish traders,” said retail fish vendors association president Felix Gonsalves. This was decided after president of the wholesale fish traders association Ibrahim Shaikh and his colleague urged them to shut down the retail fish market in their support.
“The FDA has not checked the fish properly. Formalin is never used.
They should have cut open the fish and seen if formalin was present. They are unnecessarily creating panic. If formalin is used in fish imported from other states, how is it that the local ‘tisreo’ have also been found to contain the preservative?” questioned Shaikh adding that a day’s fish is worth around Rs one crore.
In Panaji, the early morning raids by the FDA officials on the fish suppliers in the municipal market took people by surprise. The FDA officials checked fish brought by vehicles in the Panaji fish market. The test on the fish by the officials revealed that it was preserved using formalin.
A fish vendor, who buys fish in bulk, told this paper that he was shocked at the findings of the FDA officials. He went on to add that he had procured the fish from a wholesaler from Margao.
The moment the FDA officials confiscated fish from Panaji market, the others who had brought the fish from Margao disappeared from the market and only a few fish sellers were seen selling it. The confiscation of the imported fish led to surge in the sale of local caught frozen fish like mackerel and people preferred to buy the local fish.
The sudden demand for the local produce led to fish vendors increasing the prices of the fish they sold and even Bombay duck were seen being sold at Rs 300 for a portion. Prawns were sold for Rs 500 for a portion.
The fish market which normally used to be bustling with activity had only a few retailers. Many Goans who had turned up for buying fish preferred not to take chances and were seen scouting for local fish without preservatives.
Protesting against the FDA raid held in Margao, the Mapusa fish vendors association, which comprises of over 250 vendors, extended its support to the Margao fish wholesalers and the vendors stopped selling fish for almost the whole day.
The market, which is usually full of activity, wore a deserted look on Thursday. Some fish vendors were seen sitting in a group and chatting among themselves. Customers had no option but to return empty-handed. As the market in the town remained closed, fish sellers going round the town on two-wheelers were also not visible. However, fish vendors were seen selling fish in the evening.
Interacting with media, president of Mapusa Fish Vendors Association Shashikala Govekar said, “We have closed the Mapusa fish market to extend support to fish vendors of Margao on whom a raid was conducted by FDA. We have also met minister Vijay Sardesai and put forth our grievances before him. FDA claims that there is chemical in the fish, even in the local fish. Now what should we do? Since there is a ban of fishing in Goa during this month, we bring fresh fish from other states to sell, as we don’t sell frozen fish.”
She further said, “The authorities should first check the sea water into which sewage pipes are let out and then check the fish. We have been selling this fish and we will continue selling it, as we don’t have any other option.”