PANJIM: Uncertainty looms over the new fishing season, which is set to kick off from Saturday, in the absence of labourers, who have returned to their native places on account of the COVID outbreak.
The 47-day fishing ban period, which came into force from June 15, ends at midnight. The State government is expected to release a special Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for fishing activities and monitoring of jetties, to ensure that proper health and safety protocols are followed.
Fisheries Minister Filipe Neri Rodrigues had recently raised concern with regard to the non-availability of labour to undertake fishing activities. He had said that mechanized trawler owners have expressed their inability to recommence business in the absence of workers, who have left the State.
The Mandovi Fishermen Marketing Society (MFMS) on Friday expressing similar fears said that Goans may have to remain without fish for the next few months as no labourers have arrived in the State, especially at Mallim jetty. Over 1.5 lakh labourers have left for their native places since April.
MFMS chairman Francisco D’Souza said that starting fishing operations remains doubtful. “Due to Covid, a lot of our labourers from Malim jetty had left Goa and there is no guarantee as to when they will be back. Last year this time the Malim jetty had been abuzz with activity but this time the situation is grim,” he said.
He further said that Malim jetty hosts around 250 to 260 boats but due to lack of labour, no boats will venture into the sea on Saturday. “Goans might have to wait for few more months to enjoy local fish,” D’Souza said.
The trawler owner also raised apprehensions of getting labourers from outside the State. “We don’t want to take any risk. If one person gets infected the entire jetty will be sealed thus halting business and livelihood of several hundred fishermen,” he said.
There are around 1500 mechanized trawlers operational in the State during the season.