|May 7, 2016 at 7:26 pm #6466|
A poor crop of windowpane oysters at Chicalim bay has once again highlighted the threats to its renewal dynamics and has underscored the urgent need for its conservation. This high-calorie Goan delicacy, found in the shallow depths of River Zuari in Chicalim, Sancoale, Vareg island and St Jacinto island in a contiguous stretch, faces a precarious future. This stretch is considered to be one of the last few habitats of the unique Placuna placenta, locally known as ‘mendios’, on the west coast of the Indian peninsula.
Sale of windowpane oysters is banned in the state as they are designated as Schedule IV species of the amended Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, due to their poor conservation and unsustainable commercial value. Villagers have been demanding heritage village status for Chicalim to protect the species. “The government should step in to regulate the extraction, protect the brood stock and ensure a better revival process,” said a member of Chicalim villagers action committee.
“This year, only small quantities of ‘mendios’ could be harvested by some fishermen near St Jacinto island,” former Chicalim sarpanch Inacio Fernandes said.
While its breeding was disturbed for many years, a revival was witnessed since 2010 till recently, thanks to a lack of intensive harvesting and absence of barge movement after the mining ban. “Severe overexploitation could be one of the many reasons for the poor crop, but without records of extraction it may not be correct to presume it,” said professor of zoology and environmental biology at a Nuvem-based college, Manoj Borkar. “Another reason for poor breeding could be the river’s altered hydrodynamics and sedimentological variations due to the many barges docked in that area,” he added.
For generations, the resource was being used judiciously by villagers, but now, marauding individuals from outlying areas ransack the riverbed for the oysters. Local fishermen along the Zuari’s banks have used their traditional wisdom in the extraction of the marine resource within sustainable limits. The extraction activity would commence as early as November-December in the past few years and continue till March. But, this year has witnessed a worrisome lull. Other shell fish like ’tisreo’ were harvested for some time by local fishermen.
The windowpane oyster grows up to the size of a palm and its length can exceed 150mm. Parcels of the bivalves are sold at 2 to 3 per piece.
Interesting shell facts:
Source/Reference: Times of India, “Poor crop shows mendios exploited beyond sustainability“