New Goa guidelines allow only locals to harvest clams, oysters

ByGerard de Souza
Sep 28, 2022 05:11 PM IST

The Goa guidelines, notified last week, call for a quota system among harvesters and a closed season between July and October to facilitate breeding

PANAJI: The Goa government has issued guidelines restricting the harvesting of clams except by people living within a 5-km radius from the site and asked them to ensure that only clams and oysters larger than 3cm be harvested.

Clams and oysters are found at Chicalim bay on the outskirts of Vasco da Gama, and pockets of River Sal in South Goa and River Chapora in North Goa (HT File/Shutterstock)
Clams and oysters are found at Chicalim bay on the outskirts of Vasco da Gama, and pockets of River Sal in South Goa and River Chapora in North Goa (HT File/Shutterstock)

The guidelines are designed to ensure “sustainable utilisation, conservation and management of bioresources” for controlled harvesting and conservation of edible clams. It applies to the entire state, the order notified by the government last week said.

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The guidelines also called for a “quota system” among harvesters and a “closed season” between July and October every year to facilitate breeding in these habitats. The government also ordered restrictions on the entry of tourists “in identified vulnerable zones as it is known to lead to habitat alteration and water quality deterioration which is responsible for increased mortality of the clams.”

“The available clam resources should be allowed to be harvested only with the traditional method of hand picking and exclusively by the local villagers and those residing within an area of about 5 km radius from the site by road or water alongside the location and does not include the opposite side of the riverbank. Those (living) beyond the above specified distance should not be allowed to exploit these resources without the permission of the local bodies,” the guidelines said.

Clams and oysters are found at the Chicalim bay in River Zuari on the outskirts of the port town of Vasco da Gama as well as in pockets of River Sal in South Goa and River Chapora in North Goa where they are harvested and fetch a high price in the local market owing to demand by restaurants that serve it as a delicacy.

According to Goa’s department of environment and climate change, the guidelines have been put in place on the “assumption” that locals are better placed to conserve natural resources. People will conserve a resource only if the benefits exceed the costs of conservation, and they will conserve a resource that is linked directly to their quality of life or livelihood.

The new guidelines also ask the local biodiversity management committee to levy licence fees from beneficiaries involved in the harvesting of this bio-resource -- with a different fee for those who depend on clam and oyster fishing for their sustenance and a possibly higher fee who harvest because it is a delicacy.

“In this system, this revenue could possibly be used by the local panchayats towards management of these resources by involving the local community/stakeholders. Amount could be decided by BMC based on norms such as local market costs of Biological Resources, possibility to harvest per hour, etc.,” the guidelines said.

“To ensure proper management and conservation of these endemic resources unique to this localised site, quota system or alternate harvesting or appropriate mechanism developed in consultation with local body, may be implemented among the potential harvesters,” the rules state.

Former fisheries scientist at the National Institute of Oceanography Ingole BS said the guidelines were a step in the right direction and could set a new trend in utilisation of bio resources.

“In this country, there is no precedent of a quota system being implemented for resources such as fishes or clams and oysters. It should be very beneficial. If it works well it could set a new precedent for conservation in India and can be replicated across the country,” Ingole said.

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