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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Revert Mariculture Policy modifications and stop diluting Goan fishing community rights – GFP to Govt

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The Goa Forward Party slams the Government of Goa and the Fisheries Department for adopted a policy to systematically take away the rights of traditional Goan fishing community and hand it over to non-goans along with employment opportunities and schemes which are rightfully that of Goans.

On 8th June 2022, the department notified modifications to the Goa State Mariculture Policy 2020. This policy was introduced to promote and regulate cage fishing in Goa. The eligibility criteria at the time of notifying the policy in 2020 was that the applicant for the offshore aquaculture license must, according to clause 8(a) of the policy, be a resident of the State of Goa. After two years in abeyance, the government decided to modify this clause policy by allowing any citizen of India to be eligible for the aqua culture license.

The said policy was launched with the objective of generating gainful rural employment for fishing communities, to develop skill among fisher community and organizational strengthening among self-help groups etc. Under this policy, applicants can also avail subsidy for cages to set up cage fishing.

Many of the local stake holders like Raponnkars are unhappy with this scheme. They fear they will be stopped from fishing or sailing through the waters around the offshore aquaculture fishing areas. According to the policy, zones will be demarcated in the sea close to the shore and leased out to aquaculture license holders. The aquaculture sites cause pollution that can prevent other fish from swimming in these waters. Raponkars fear that this will lead to further reduction in their catch. Instead of taking the stakeholders into confidence, the government is threatening the livelihood of these local fishermen in favor of non-goan mariculture investors.

Interestingly, the new notification adds a new clause stating that the cage fishing operator should engage at least 10 local manpower/fishermen for the cage culture activity. This clause is meant to fool people. There is no mechanism in place to check for violations nor is there any penalty clause for violating this condition in the policy.

The clause also exposes the Government’s double speak where they claim they cannot bring in legislation to provide reservation for Goans in the private sector. If the government can modify the Mariculture policy to provide certain number of jobs to local manpower/fishermen i.e. Goans then why can’t the government modify the Industrial policy to provide reservation for locals?

It may be recalled that the department had issued job advertisements for Sagar Mitras where they failed to mentioned knowledge of Konkani language as the edibility criteria. After GFP raised the issue, the department was forced to back track and rectify their mistake. It appears that the department is yet to learn from their mistakes and hasn’t ceased attempting to dilute rules to accommodate people from outside the state.

I on behalf of the Goa Forward Party and the Goan fishing community demand that the government revert the eligibility clause in the Goa State Mariculture Policy 2020 so that only Goans have a right to apply for all licenses, leases and schemes related to fishing in Goa.

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