PANAJI: Even as the six-month ban on import of fish into the state of Goa came into effect from today, the Tourism Industry in Goa is staring at huge losses as exotic sea food is the backbone of the restaurants and hotels in coastal state.
The tourism industry stands to face a cumulative loss of Rs 70-95 crore, which can even go up to Rs 150 crore over a period of six months if the ban is strictly enforced, according to research conducted by IndiaScoops.com in consultation with various tourism, shacks and hotel and restaurant associations in Goa.
“Most foreigners who visit Goa during the tourism months from December to February patronize the sea-food restaurants. Various types of fish, prawns, tiger prawns, lobsters, etc., are the items of choice and the most patronized dishes on the menus of most restaurants. Goa is not able to meet the demand for this high-end, exotic sea food, including salmon, etc., which is in great demand with the foreign tourists,” said Adv Diya Shetkar, President of the Goa Citizen’s Action Forum.
According to a report in the Navhind Times, the Congress party on Sunday called upon the government and the Health Minister Vishwajit Rane to do a re-think “as it would put the state and the fish eaters in crisis.”
Addressing media persons, Congress spokesperson Sankalp Amonkar along with some youth Congress leaders on Sunday, warned that if the government imposes a ban on fish import without banning export of Goan fish, it will lead to chaos and confusion in state due to extreme fish shortage.
Amonkar expressed fear that the ban on import of fish will create fish scarcity in the state markets since fish is a staple diet of most Goans.
Elaborating further, he said that when subsidy of Rs 100 crore is given to fishermen, the catch should be enjoyed by Goans first as the money comes from the taxpayers’ pockets.
He questioned the government whether measures are in place to crack down on illegal import of fish particularly by buses, trains adding soon people will start bringing fish in their private vehicles and goods carriers.
Amonkar said that Goans should not suffer due to the ban and should get formalin-free fish and demanded that FDA officer Iva Fernandes be appointed as nodal officer.
The Congress spokesperson further said that the Health Minister Rane had made a statement that fish ban has been announced in consultation with the TCP Minister Vijai Sardesai and asked why this is happening when the state has a designated fisheries minister.
Alleging that the Fisheries Minister Vinod Palienkar is maintaining a stoic silence, Amonkar said that Palienkar should break his silence and come out clean on the issue and if he is under some pressure from anybody then he should quit the post. He said, “Let some capable person take over the post and handle the issue tactfully.”
Amonkar also alleged that the fish ban and formalin issue is a well-enacted drama by two ministers and fish mafia and alleged that only ministers and fish mafia are speaking but the fisheries minister is silent over the issue.