In the midst of gloomy reports that River Sal figures in the list of India’s most polluted rivers, fishermen see a fresh ray of hope as the shell fish – tisreos (clams) and zobb (mussels) have made their presence once again in the river, along the Cutbona-Betul river stretch.
More than a decade after clams and mussels disappeared from the river bed around the Betul-Cutbona-Ambelim-Assolna belt, raising concerns amongst fishermen and environmentalists that pollution has killed the rich marine habitat, the shell fish has returned again, bringing smiles on the faces of the traditional fishermen and locals.
It’s now over a month since local fishermen started harvesting tisreos around the Betul-Cutbona river Sal stretch. What has further brought good news for the local fishermen is that mussels have also made its presence in the river, though in small quantities.
In fact, one can find fishermen, the young and the old, including elderly women, descending in the river during low tide, to harvest the clams. The much-sought after clams and mussels harvested from the river Sal has already hit the local markets at Assolna, Cuncolim and Margao.
If the fishermen are to be believed clams have made large presence in the river bed, opposite the Cutbona fishing jetty, running parallel to the Mobor stretch and right up to Betul.
Traditional fisherman Vinay Tari said this is perhaps the first time that tisreos have made a big comeback at the river Sal after over a decade. “We did not find clams in the river for around a decade now. The fishermen are indeed happy that the clams have returned back to the river Sal. We have seen elderly and old ladies descending into the river to collect the clams,” he said.
He added: “The bumper harvest of clams in the last one month has brought smiles on the faces of the traditional fishermen.”
Tari, however, cautioned the government not to take any hasty steps to desilt and dredge the river Sal around the Cutbona-Betul belt when the fishermen are harvesting the shell fish.
Boat owner and fisherman Cypriano Cardozo echoed similar sentiments. He said clams and mussels have returned back to the river after over a decade. “We have seen fishermen harvesting clams just opposite the Cutbona fishing jetty. Reports indicate that there’s bumper availability of clams in the river Sal this year,” Cypriano added.
Presence of dredger near river raises concerns of govt’s desilting plansMARGAO: Even as the river Sal bed plays host to the rich variety of clams and mussels over the last several days, the arrival of a dredger near the mouth of the river has raised apprehensions whether the government is bracing up to desilt the river in the near future. Dredging of the river Sal, from Khareband to Betul, has been taken up by the government in the last two years. After having dredged the river right up to Ambelim, the contractor is now bracing up to complete the work before the onset of monsoons.Fishermen led by Vinay Tari, however, raised concerns that reckless dredging at this part of the year, when the river bed plays host to a bumper shell fish. In fact, he sound a word of caution, stating that optimum care ought to the exercised to ensure that the river bed and the marine habitat is not destroyed and devastated by the dredging.Velim MLA Cruz Silva pointed out that the contractor had called on him with the river Sal dredging plan before executing the work. “We have reached the last phase of the river Sal dredging, from Ambelim to Betul, which plays host to rich marine resources, including clams, oysters and mussels. I will hold a meeting of the contractor and the fishermen before the dredging work commences around the Ambelim-Betul stretch”, he said.
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