Goa's shrinking mussel shellfish gets a fresh lease of life

Goa's mussel shellfish, a regular part of the state's cuisine, has got a fresh lease of life after the Indian Council for Agricultural Research embarked on a project to arrest the rapid decline of the species.

Mussel is the common name used for members of several families of clams from saltwater and freshwater habitats.

In the wake of the poor availability of mussel last year, a team of ICAR scientists started working with the local community to revive the mussel and other two indigenous fish varieties, that have been rapidly depleting, despite them fetching handsome returns in the market.

"There was no mussel spat available last year," Manju Lakshmi N, scientist with the Fishing Resources Management Division of ICAR, said.

Factors like pollution, climate change and sand mining has resulted in the dwindling number of mussel, found in the state's estuarine waters, she said.

According to her, the shifting of monsoon patterns from its traditional calendar also contributed to it.

As part of the mariculture project initiated in August last year and being carried out at Betim and Goa-Velha, both near Panaji in river Mandovi, the ICAR scientists first collected the seeds from Kerala.

The scientists are also breeding pearl spot (kalunder) and mullet (shevto) fish species, which are indigenous and has a great market value, just like mussels. "These fish are high in demand, but their culture was not practised in Goa," she said.

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