‘Sale of fish put on hold for social distancing’
Sale of fish across certain coastal zones has been put on hold in Palghar, Raigad, and Ratnagiri and is being strictly monitored in other areas such as Mumbai, Thane and Sindhudurg to ensure social distancing is maintained, said the state fisheries department. The fishing community says it has suffered losses of Rs 300 crore in March alone because of the Covid-19 outbreak. Social distancing is among the preventive measures undertaken to restrict the spread of the Sars-Cov-2 virus, which causes Covid-19.
“From March 25, only one boat at any given interval was being allowed to dock and unload fish between 10am and 5pm at major ports such as Sassoon Dock and Bhaucha Dhakka (Ferry Wharf) in south Mumbai,” said Rajendra Jadhav, joint commissioner, state fisheries department. “However, on Friday, there was a surge of consumers at these docks where they failed to maintain the protocol. This was not only in Mumbai, but all major fish landing points along the coast. Keeping the health of citizens in mind, we have decided that wherever large crowds will gather, sale of fish will be stopped for the entire day until citizens understand the importance of social distancing. The police will be monitoring this and we request citizens to comply with the directions issued by the state.”
At major landing sites, between Wednesday and Thursday, the fishing community demarcated areas at a distance of one metre to avoid crowding. Ganesh Nakhawa, chairman, National Purse Seine Fishermen Welfare Association (NPSFWA) was present at the landing dock at Karanja, in Uran, on Friday, where sale was allowed between 6.30am and 7.30am. He said, “Initially, people wearing masks and gloves came in an organised manner, but soon after, large crowds started gathering. As it was becoming a safety hazard, local authorities have banned sale here from Saturday, leading to wastage of thousands of tonnes of fish, prawns and other marine products.”
According to the NPSFWA, the losses sustained by the fishing community in Maharashtra, from March 10 to March 27, is estimated at Rs. 300 crore. “Packing, refrigeration, acquisition of ice and transport to consumer are not functioning,” he said, adding that much of the fish catch along the state’s coastline had either been ruined or was handed over to consumers for free.
Fishing operations, sale and transportation had been shut in the state in view of the Covid-19 outbreak. However, a circular issued on March 24 by the Central government included such operations among essential services.