VASCO: In a post COVID world where many “normals’ are changing, it is perhaps time to look at Goa’s primary food requirements and how we can look inwards, or “inland” to meet our needs
The freshwater fishing activity could be a two way beneficial activity; which might help in the revival and preservation of the biodiversity of the Goa as well as helping open avenues to many who can earn their livelihood by undertaking freshwater fishing and inland fishing commercially.
Dr. Fr. Bolmax Pereira, Parish Priest of Chicalim and a research scholar and who has done his doctorate on Goa's Wetland spoke to Herald on this issue. He shared his study and observation and the solutions which could lead to protection of wetlands, biodiversity and also promote and help the freshwater fishing activities flourish in Goa.
Fr Pereira said everything boils down to the protection and preservation of biodiversity of Goa. “We need to understand first that to think of freshwater fishing activity to take it to the next level; we have to understand about the topography of Goa. Further it is very important for freshwater fishing activity to be successful that our freshwater bodies should have water in them. Topographically Goa can be divided into three regions, viz hilly region, midland region and coastal plains” he informed.
It is in the midland region that we have the best opportunity for recharging of ground water table. The hilly region needs precautions such as considering the possibilities of landslides depending upon the type of soil and subsoil the hill is holding", he added.
Freshwater fishing, besides giving an economic boost, will help in revival of fresh water bodies and retaining the indigenous species of underwater vegetation and fish breeds.
Fr Bolmax added, “We need to refer back and take references from the past. In the olden times when there was no rampant urbanization and when there used to be ample amount of rainfall and ample fresh water bodies with water in them; people used to get ample freshwater fish. This proves that the freshwater fish are available in the rivers, ponds and also during rains in the fields.”
“We are now dependent on the imported fish from outside. The fish mafia tends to control the fish supply. Then again there was also formalin issue some time back, which was reportedly used for fish preservation. We people stay dependent on “imported fish” and in the name of development and urbanization, we have neglected what is traditionally ours. Freshwater fishing could be a part of the economic revival plan in the rural area. We have become used to the taste of sea fish. But still the freshwater fish is a delicacy and is largely consumed by the Goans. This is healthy fish and easily available,” he added further.
Fr Pereira also mentioned that if government takes interest in such thing, then he feels issues on a larger scale will also be addressed. He gave the examples of how flooding of fields could be sold once the streams and water-bodies are cleaned. He also felt that there will be ground water recharging of rainwater harvesting.
“The Western Ghat is a hotspot of biodiversity. By reviving the waterbodies, we will be protecting and preserving flora and fauna, vegetables, reptiles, amphibians, types of bird species, butterflies, insects etc, which has a major role to play in the nature. The idea of bringing freshwater fishing into mainstream would benefit in two ways making it a win-win situation wherein people will benefit economically as well as ecologically,” he added.