Declaring ‘shevtto’ as state fish has been a strategic and a well-thought decision to promote and preserve the perennial fish breed of Goa’s inland waters as well as the oceans, considering the variety of fishes savoured by Goans. Regarding the conspicuous surprise expressed by Goans over the choice of shevtto in comparison to other varieties and species of fish, Fisheries director Dr Shamila Monteiro said, “Every state has to declare a species of fish as state fish. Goa has been considering for quite a long, which fish variety could be identified with the citizens as well as it should have some state-centric specificity.”
Speaking to this daily, Monteiro said, “The striped grey mullet or the shevtto as commonly known in Goa is found in all types of waters in Goa, the sea, coastline waters, rivers, khazan land and it can acclimatise fresh waters also. Whereas though other fishes like mackerel or sardines contribute to fifty per cent of the total fish catch, they are sea and ocean water fishes.”
According to department statistics, shevtto contributes to seven per cent of the inland water catch and around three hundred tonnes every year from the high seas catch.
Pointing towards the perennial availability of the mullet, Monteiro added, “Another important aspect is that the fish is available throughout the year, even during the fishing ban period, shevtto is available from the inland waters.”
By declaring mullet as the state fish, the government is also on a mission to promote and provide the out-of-reach fish variety on Goans’ platter. For the purpose, the government, through its various schemes, will promote fish farming.
“We want people to culture the fish. In the monsoons when the shrimp farmers are not engaged in shrimp farming or during the lean period, they can go for mullet farming as it has a good price command. We all are aware that shevtto is sold like hot cake,” Monteiro added.
Monteiro informed that the available schemes for fish farming and brackish waters will be extended to shevtto farming too. However, she added “Since the species has been declared as the state fish, there will be more schemes and benefits that will be rolled out for the benefit of the fish farmers and those who wish to establish shevtto culture business.”
Currently the Goa government is providing financial benefits and incentives for feed crops, equipments, construction of bunds, etc. The government grants Rs two lakh per hectare upto two hectares for construction and renovation of bund, rupees thirty thousand per hectare for feed crop and equipment subsidy of rupees one lakh.
“Support from central government is also available if any farmer is willing and submits a proposal,” Monteiro added.
Though said to be high in cholesterol, the shevtto is low in sodium and is a good source of vitamin B6 and phosphorus, and a very good source of protein, niacin and selenium. Being a white flesh fish variety, it is also an excellent source of amino acids, informed Monteiro.