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St Andre  MLA Francisco Silveira and president of the All Goa Purse Seiners Boat Owners Association Harshad Dhond seen with stakeholders in the fishing business at Miramar on Monday 

Fish imports: govt relaxes FDA norms for smalltime fishermen

PANAJI: Providing relief to smalltime fishermen from Karnataka and Maharashtra who operate within 60 kilometre of the Goa borders, the state government on Monday relaxed the mandatory directives of the food and drugs administration for fish transportation.

The latest order issued by the health department says that only traditional fishermen of Karnataka and Maharashtra who transport fish from the radius of 60 kilometre of the Goa borders will be permitted to get their fish into the state.

The fish consignments will be allowed to be carried only in small light motor vehicles like Boleros, Tata Mobiles and similar four wheelers, in insulated boxes (or) with adequate ice.

The fish meant for import into Goa should clear the safety norms prescribed by the Food Safety and Standard Authority regulations.

“The fish samples shall be subjected to a random check through FDA officials’ rapid test kits developed by the CIFT. If the samples are found to be testing positive, the consignment shall be held back and further subjected to confirmatory lab test based on the result of which action as per Food Safety and Standards Act will be taken,” states the order issued dated December 17, 2018, by health under-secretary Maria Seomara De Souza.

The government has asked the traditional fishermen transporting the fish to obtain necessary licences from their concerned FDAs.

The Goa FDA has been directed to deploy their teams of officials at the borders for effective enforcement of the norms in coordination with the police and the transport department.

“The big fish traders will mandatorily have to comply with the directives of the food and drugs administration. But we are relaxing the regulations for smalltime fishermen who transport fish into Goa from the radius of 60 kilometre of the state borders,” Health Minister Vishwajit Rane told media persons at the Secretariat.

Earlier in the day, around 600-odd  owners of trawlers and boats, smalltime  fish agents, vendors and other stakeholders gathered at the Miramar Circle to take out a march to the Health Minister’s private residence.

However, they were cornered by the police at the place where had gathered. The fishermen refused to leave the site, insisting that they would not leave unless and until their demands are met.

Later, after the sub-divisional magistrate stepped in, a 12-member delegation led by president of the All Goa Purse Seiners Boat Owners Association Harshad Dhond and including St Andre MLA Francisco Silveira met Rane at the Secretariat.

They sought an explanation over the seizure of fish consignments that came into Goa from Karwar, demanding relaxation to the smalltime fishermen operating within 60 kilometre of the Goa borders.

The agitating fishermen dispersed from Miramar only after Rane assured them that an order will be issued by Monday evening.

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