09 Feb 2023  |   07:20am IST

Gandhi opposed the salt tax, Goa’s fisherfolk oppose the taxing fishing registration

Gandhi opposed the salt tax, Goa’s fisherfolk oppose the taxing fishing registration

Gandhi’s opposition to the salt tax was the beginning of the world’s best-known and iconic non-violent movement for the rights of the common man.

The Mahatma believed that an item of daily use could resonate more with all classes of citizens than an abstract demand for greater political rights. Explaining his choice Gandhi said, “Next to air and water, salt is perhaps the greatest necessity of life.”

The Goa Fishing Department’s decision to make compulsory registration of all fishing equipment with a payment of a fee with severe penalties for failure is not just grossly unfair but a cruel blow to our suffering fishermen.

Harsh penal action for failure to register includes confiscation of equipment, catch, and fines multiple times the value of the catch.

This displays a lack of empathy and sensitivity towards both traditional and professional fisher folk as well as thousands of amateurs who do angling and fishing as an idyll, happy sport.

Was this even needed? Was this blow so important? Our simple fisherfolk will be happy if they can just cast their net freely, get a plentiful catch from their waters, feed themselves, their neighbours, and people nearby, and of course earn a living.

Fisherfolk only want to cast a net to catch fish, our ‘system’ only wants to cast their net for more greed

Our sons of the soil do not have money to repair their nets, their fuel subsidy has been slashed, they didn’t get government help on time to repair their boats, trawlers with LED lights and purse seine fishing on Zuari have sucked the fish out of Goa waters and the coastal police does not have a single functioning boat to chase and apprehend rogue trawlers. It’s a shame.

Meanwhile, the huge quantity of plastic has made fishing impossible as the nets bring in more plastic than fish.

While they are battling for their existence and survival, what is the logic behind the compulsory paid registration for their fishing?


Many years ago, the great man called the “naked fakir” by westerners stripped bare the British cruelty in imposing the salt tax.  A decision today that hurts those who catch fish- essential to Goan life brings the same sense of hurt and sacrifice. A call to reject this rule by Goan fishermen strikes the same chord of democratic resistance.