Team B&C | NT
Year 2019 was the worst ever for the fishing industry in the state with annual fish catch plunging nearly 40 per cent to 75,748 tons from 121,115 tons in the previous year, according to the Economic Survey 2019-20.
The Survey disclosed that, annual catch of through open-sea fishing (marine) as well as inland rivers decreased significantly by 38 per cent and 27 per cent respectively. The Economic Survey does not explain the reason for the sharp fall but it is attributed to series of cyclones that struck the country.
According to local fishermen, fishing activities were disturbed several times due to four cyclones in the Arabian Sea in 2019, Vayu, Hikka, Kyarr and finally Maha. Besides adverse conditions caused by cyclones, competition from trawlers coming from outside states was also responsible for the plunge in fish catch, according to fishermen.
On the export front also the industry faced setback in 2019, with export of marine products in 2019 decreasing 15 per cent from 44,444 tons in 2018 to 37,938 tons in 2018-19 (provisional). The Survey reveals that exports in value terms fell marginally from Rs 623 crore in 2018 to Rs 620 crore in 2018-19.
Sea food exporters in the state said that, the formalin-in-fish controversy took a huge toll on fish exports as the state government stopped inter-state fish movement. The Goan sea-food exporting industry relies heavily on fish coming in from outside states and purchased more than 60 per cent of its raw material from neighbouring states of Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka.
According to stakeholders in the local fishing industry, the state’s fishing economy is fragile. It lacks supporting infrastructure to boost earnings for fishermen, such as facilities in jetties and cold storage to store excess catch. The other problem is rampant over fishing by outside fishermen who also indulge in LED fishing ,
Measures taken by the state to support fishing activities are the amendment of the Goa Marine Fishing Regulation Act 2019, for fishing in inland waters. Previously inland fishing was regulated by the Inland Fisheries Act, 1897 and by the Goa Daman and Diu Fisheries Rule 1981, which has been repealed.
The other measure to increase fish catch is to extend the fishing ban period to two months of the year, viz. June and July. The Survey says, “extension of the fish ban helped to regenerate of stocks and increase production,” although the statistics tell another story.