A visit to the Cutbona fishing jetty, South Goa’s largest fishing hub, would reveal that mechanised fishing boats returned, probably after the last fishing trip, to drop anchor in the river Sal. Already, nearly 40-50 per cent of the fishing vessels operating from Cutbona have dropped anchor and the remaining vessels, which have ventured out into the sea for fishing, are expected to do so in the next four days, before curtains come down on the current fishing season on May 31.
At the fishing jetty, one would come across labourers pulling fishing nets from the vessels to load them into waiting vehicles for transportation to the place of residence of the boat owners. Migrant labourers, hailing from the states of Odisha and Jharkhand, have begun leaving the jetty to catch the Amravati Express at the Margao railway station that would take them to their native states as the ban on fishing is set to come into effect from June 1.
Jetty in bad shape
Boat owners operating from Cutbona say the fishing season was neither bad nor good, but moderate, with a glut in the mackerel catch this season. Complaints, however, are galore over the infrastructural facilities at the jetty, which boat owners claim is the home for 300-odd fishing vessels.
The jetty road is in bad shape with potholes and craters dotting the entire stretch. Boat owners claim that repeated pleas to the Fisheries department to repair and hot mix the jetty road fell on deaf ears.
The state of affairs of illumination is no different. Lamps on some of the poles dotting the jetty have been left damaged, affecting illumination.
Demands to launch the new jetty
Boat owners had another complaint to make – the delay in the inauguration of the new jetty since its construction around half a decade ago. Chairman of the Cutbona fisheries society Vinay Tari pointed out that while Cutbona has emerged as the largest mechanised fishing hub, the new jetty built by spending crores of rupees is not put to productive use.
"The new jetty ought to have been put to use for boats to anchor. But, the facility is now the home for scrap and vessels that have submerged at the jetty. Our pleas to use the stretch for docking of vessels and parking of fish transporting trucks has fallen on deaf ears,” he rued.
Former Cutbona Boat Owners Union President Savio D’Silva echoed similar sentiments. “When the Cutbona jetty is the home for 300-odd vessels, it is surprising that the new jetty is not put to productive use to tide over the space constraint,” he said.
Sanitation is another issue that has been hanging fire for over a decade now with no proper toilet and washroom facilities at the fishing jetty. The 50-seater toilet block proposed over a decade ago has still not seen the light of the day for reasons best known to the Fisheries Department and the Health Services.
Hopes were raised during the current fishing season that sanitation-related issues will be addressed after the Fisheries department set up bio-toilets at the fisheries complex. Sadly, the bio-toilets were not thrown open for the migrant crew employed on the fishing vessels.
Says former Cutbona Boat Owners Union President, Cyprian Cardozo: “Sanitation has been an issue at the Cutbona fishing jetty over the years, but there’s no solution forthcoming from the government. When the jetty plays host to thousands of migrant crew during the peak fishing season, the government should have moved with urgency to provide sanitation amenities.”