For Fishing To Grow

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Need for incentives and safeguards to take Goa’s fishing to highest level
A report recently tabled by Fisheries Minister Filipe Neri Rodrigues in the Assembly revealed that the fish catch during the last fishing season declined by 12 percent. The fishermen in the state netted over 1.05 lakh tonnes of fish in 2019-20 as against a little over 1.20 lakh tonnes in 2018-19. The fishing season is operational in the state from August till May. With just 78,249 tonnes of fish caught up to January 2021, it is estimated that the total catch would be lower than the previous year. Of the total catch till January this year, marine catch accounted for 74,092 tonnes; the catch from inland waters was 4,157 tonnes. Though the amount of fish catch might have been affected by the stringent lockdown on account of the coronavirus pandemic in the last season, it is not yet clear whether the pandemic has had any effect on lower fish catch this year. The fishing business contributes to around 2.5 percent of the state economy and depleting fish catch could have a bearing on state’s revenues.
Fish is a staple food for more than eighty-five percent of the state’s population. The fish caught by the fishing community has a ready market in Goa. However, a significant part of the total catch, especially of premium fish, is exported as it fetches better prices for the fishermen. The state’s efforts for development of the fishing industry could suffer if the downward trend in fish catch is not arrested. A few months ago Union Fisheries Minister Giriraj Singh had announced that an investment of Rs 400 crore would be made in Goa to make the state a fisheries hub in the country as Goa had the potential for very high fish production in the country. The investment of Rs 400 crore in the fisheries sector of Goa is to be jointly made by the Union government, the state fisheries board and others. The Union government has already sanctioned Rs 41.47 crore (out of Rs 400 crore) to the state. The amount is to be used for the revival of the fisheries industry and ensuring safe fishing.
The marine fishing sector contributes about 98 percent of the total fish production in Goa, by virtue of which the fishing sector contributes about 2.5 percent of the GDP of the state. In this regard Goa is in the third position after West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Goa also contributes 1.85 percent of the total marine fish landings of the country, according to the data of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute. The fishing industry has played a vital role in the socio-economic development of the state by contributing substantially towards the state GDP through export and domestic trade annually. In the assessment of the central and state agencies Goa has a continental shelf area of 10,000 Km2 with 100 fathoms depth and thus holds a huge scope in the fisheries development, particularly through marine fishing and brackish water fish production. Though the state and the Centre are pushing for the development of the fisheries industry, a lot will also depend on how the authorities tackle illegal poaching at sea by fishing vessels from outside the state and country.
Though the state spends over Rs 60 crore annually on subsidies to the fisheries sector, the subsidies are not passed on to the locals as the prices of fish continue to rise significantly. The state should evolve a plan for sustainable growth of fisheries as an industry and ensure that the funds allocated by the Centre are put to good use. It is also necessary that illegalities at sea are kept under control and overfishing together with harvesting of juveniles are stopped. Overfishing and harvesting of juveniles has led to certain types of fish becoming extinct. Goa has to also deal with some central regulations that are not difficult to enforce under peculiar settlement of the fishing population. Goa should seek relaxations under the Coastal Regulation Zone 2011. A dynamic and holistic plan should be drawn to take the fishing industry in the state to the highest level.