CANACONA: Once famous for clams harvested from their riverbeds, Canacona and Betul are facing a critical situation as the shellfish is reported to be on the verge of extinction due to water pollution.
It was once a common site at this time of the year to see men, women and children squatting in the intertidal zones or in knee deep waters digging pits to collect clams with coconut shells.
Most of the catch was sold in the local fish markets and the rest for self consumption.
However, in the last few years, clams have ‘disappeared’ depriving the locals of their favourite delicacies such as “Tisreanchem Sukem” and others.
Experts attribute the decrease in population of shellfish to the increased pollution levels in these rivers, which they claim is not conducive for the spawning and survival of this unique marine species which has a life cycle of a year.
The fishing community in these places are the most affected as their already dwindling financial resources took a hit when they came to know that this year the situation would not be any different from the last few years.
The local fishing community is not aware of the scientific reasons behind the mysterious ebbing of the clams but attribute their decline to the release of sewage and riverbed alteration.
A few years ago, Padma Bhushan Awardee and ecologist Madhav Gadgil after conducting extensive studies, blamed the loss of fish and shellfish productivity in Goa to three key factors namely water turbidity, increased sedimentation and oil, iron and manganese pollution.
The recent study conducted by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) revealing that Sal and Talpona rivers are two of the most polluted rivers in Goa didn't bring any cheer to the locals, who were waiting since last half decade to harvest clams from these riverbeds.
Fishermen and fish lovers feel that the authorities should ascertain the exact reason behind the decline in clams and fear that the day is not too far when there will be situation where there will be water in the State rivers but no fish for the fishermen to catch or for the Goenkars to consume.