Goa: Traditional fishermen demand land to anchor boats ahead of new fishing season

Presently, the fishermen anchor their canoes on the land abutting the shore owned by the landlords.

THE GOAN NETWORKUpdated: Monday, July 18, 2022, 01:33 PM IST
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The traditional fishermen have no dedicated land to mend fishing nets, keep nets for drying and dry. |

Huge waves triggered by sea conditions battered the Benaulim coast on Sunday, as the traditional fishermen from Benaulim offered a Litany at the Holy Cross ahead of the new fishing season. The sea water nearly touched the land mass where the traditional fishermen anchor their traditional fishing canoes, bringing to the fore the same old question – why is the government not opening up the Fisheries Department acquired land admeasuring 53,000 square metres for the traditional fishermen?

Presently, the fishermen anchor their canoes on the land abutting the shore owned by the landlords for want of dedicated area for the traditional fishing activities. The fishermen minced no words when they made a fervent plea to the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, Fisheries Minister Nilkhant Harlarnkar and all the MLAs to intervene and save the traditional fishing activity in Benaulim.

“We no longer take the risk of anchoring our vessels on the shore during the monsoons fearing of the vessels getting washed into the sea. Last year, our fishermen lost two vessels when they were anchored on the shore.” Says traditional fisherman, Pele Fernandes.

Against this backdrop, Pele and other fishermen said they are left with no option than to anchor the vessels on the private land owned by the landlords with their permission. He questioned why the fishermen have to knock the doors of the landlord when land admeasuring 53,000 sq mtrs is available and lying idle in the fisheries complex. “The Fisheries Department had acquired the land for the shrimp hatchery as a pilot project. It’s now over a decade and half since the hatchery has been lying in the dumps for want of production. It is in the fitness of things that the government should earmark a minimum 5,000 sq mtrs of the hatchery acquired land to anchor canoes during monsoons,” he said.

Pele added, “The traditional fishermen have no dedicated land to mend fishing nets, keep nets for drying and dry fish. The government should support the traditional fishermen in the ongoing Assembly session and protect the traditional activity.”

Appeal in the assembly

Benaulim MLA Venzy Viegas, who was invited for the Litany by the Benaulim fishermen reminded that the traditional fishermen under the banner of Niz Ramponkarancho Ekvott had submitted a proposal to the government to take the local fishermen as stakeholders in the plan mooted by the Fisheries Department to develop the hatchery land. “We had asked for land inside the hatchery project to anchor around 100 canoes, space to dry fish and mend nets and other amenities such as a washroom, community hall for the fishermen, etc,” he said.

The MLA pointed out he has raised the issue in the ongoing Assembly session with a plea to support the traditional fishing occupation. “Let the investor who accepts the offer of the Fisheries Department take the traditional fishermen as the stakeholders give a share of the project to the fishermen. Children of the fishermen are educated and working abroad. They will certainly invest money in the project,” he said.

The MLA has warned that the traditional fishermen will not allow the setting up of any project if the government does not protect the interest of the local stakeholders, including the traditional fishermen.

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