Goa government announces fish ban

As the tiny state of Goa approaches the tourist season, it finds it finds itself amidst a government implemented fish ban on all imported fish. The Goa government on Saturday again announced a ban on import of fish into the state for the next six months.

The fish ban comes against the backdrop of a scare in the coastal state that formalin, a potential cancer-causing chemical, was being used to preserved fish. The chemical is used in mortuaries is used as a storage alternative by traders that would make fish look fresh despite of road travel.

As the formalin scare is still in the air, local catch is looking to reclaim market share. The Margao fish market is the state’s trading point, where due to the fish ban on imported fish, both retail and the wholesale chain insist the produce is “local”.

Imported fish  in Goa means King Fish, Black Pomfret, Perch, Mackerel, and Rock Fish that are  ferried in trucks from the four southern states. The FDA has earlier found Formalin in fish brought from other states that would lead to a fish ban.

On November 12th 2018, due to public pressure, Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane issued a circular for fish ban on all fish imports if the traders do not follow basic guidelines one of which includes introducing “insulated trucks” and maintaining freeze levels for transport of fish.

Health minister Vishwajit Rane said that the fish ban would continue till fish traders comply with all requirement, and independent labs are in place to check the quality of fish.  Goa exporters moved this circular of the fish ban to the High Court against the state government order saying it doesn’t have the jurisdiction to issue such an order. The court will hear the matter on the 19th of November 2018.

Fish ban promotes local produce

Imports of fish banned in Goa for the next 6 months
Due to the fish ban on imports, local produce prices have hiked up. (Representational image)

On Thursday, the Margao wholesale markets witnessed a street without trucks from other states, while buyers looked to buy local produce. Due to the fish ban, the prices of local fish is hiked up but at least it is not injected with formalin and it’s fresh local produce and has traveled for a short distance.

While in the retail market the local produce sold at retail price. According to sources, 5 jetties have been active with the fish ban pushing incentives to local fisher folk. “Earlier, when we would bring the fish from our waters, these trucks and their traders would push the same fish, bringing our price down. It was a lot of hard work from our fishermen, but they were defeated by trade practices, often illegal as these trucks get stale fish which is made to look fresh using chemicals. This ban will introduce new prices, but in a way it will also infuse some good practices in the supply chain,” said Edwin Carvalho, director of Vasco Fishing boat owners marketing co-op society limited.

It is reported that Vasco jetty catches tonnes of fish everyday. But everyone is not convinced that the produce will be able to supply the peak tourist season that begins in less than 30 days. Agents at the jetty though confirm that “not all varieties might be good for the tourist crowd, with high-end restaurants demanding a certain size and flesh quantity per catch”.

Imports of fish banned in Goa for the next 6 months
Fish ban on local produce gives rise to local produce. (representational image)

On the October 26 stopped allowing fish traders who haven’t registered with the Food and Drugs Administration to import the fish outside the state. The state government is banning fish imports for the second time this year, the earlier one, for fifteen days, having been announced by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in July.

Due to the fish ban, a political was was sparked with politicians in the neighboring state of Maharashtra threatening to damage Goa registered vehicles if the Goa government doesn’t allow the people of Sindhudurg to sell fish in the state.


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