Local Goa News

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Upset fishermen block Mandovi, Sal river channels

Irked over fishing boats using Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights for fishing in deep waters, fishermen in the state intensified their protest on Wednesday by blocking the navigational channels of Mandovi and Sal rivers and vowed to continue the agitation until the government puts a mechanism in place.
About 1,500 members from the fishing community comprising of vendors, ramponkars, trawlers, canoe and boat owners took to the roads outside the fisheries department in Panaji, demanding immediate implementation of the ban on LED fishing.
Fishermen also anchored their vessels in the Mandovi river thus resorting to a blockade in protest and said that the trawlers, canoes and boats would not be going out into the sea for fishing until the government stops all LED fishing. Around 100 trawlers and 300 canoes were anchored in River Mandovi while the River Sal navigational channel was blocked by over 150 trawlers and more than 300 canoes at Betul.
The protest in Panaji began in the afternoon and included various fishing associations in the state such as Goencho Ramponkarancho Ekvott, Vailankini Saiban Association, All Goa Fishing Community Trawler Owners Association, etc. Accompanying the Goencho Ramponkarancho Ekvott protestors was Science and Technology Minister Alina Saldanha, who submitted a memorandum to Shamila Monteiro, director, fisheries department.
Fisheries Minister Avertano Furtado arrived in the evening and assured the protestors that policemen and personnel from the Coast Guard and Caption of Ports would go out into the sea and nab the LED fishing boats. However, Mandovi Fishermen Marketing Co-operative Society chairman Menino Afonso said that until they see the government bringing back the LED boats from the sea, “the agitation will continue.”
The agitators, who were present with their children including babies, went back home towards dusk but said that they will return on Thursday morning. They said that they are irked by the inertia of the government in nabbing the LED boats. Monteiro came in for severe criticism over the failure of the government to act on repeated complaints against LED fishing.
The notification banning LED fishing was issued on May 10, 2016, but fishermen said that it is not being implemented.
Trawler owner, Sitakant Parab, Malim, said that with LED fishing “fish catch in the sea will be finished off within a year.” The LED boat owners are usually from Karnataka and Kerala and also include some Goans. Some protestors said that the Goan LED fishing boats are owned by local politicians and hence the government is not stopping them.
Strong police force was deployed and additional force kept on standby fearing law and order situation at Betul. However, the protest in South Goa passed off peacefully without any untoward incident.
President of the Cutbona Boat Owners Association Savio D’Silva said that the trawlers are all at deep sea and only two have returned so far. “We will have to wait and watch what action the fisheries department initiates,” he said.
In Maharashtra, LED fishing is banned and properly implemented, said fishermen. The penalty for those caught using LED lights in Maharashtra is five times the value of a fishing vessel and that acts as a deterrent, said the agitating fishermen.

NT Network Goa News

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