COVID-19: Odisha govt bans fish trade with West Bengal

Several COVID-19 patients in the state had travel history to West Bengal, according to state govt 

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Friday 24 April 2020
Fish landing centre at Paradip. Source: Ashis Senapati

The Odisha government on April 24, 2020 banned supply of fish to West Bengal after a number of people who tested positive for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in the state were found to have travel links to Bengal. 

The state also banned all types of fishing to prevent people from West Bengal to enter Odisha's coastal pockets to curb COVID-19 spread.

In a bid to conserve fish stock during the breeding period, the state fisheries department imposed restrictions from April 15 to June 14. The ban aims to conserve fish species during the monsoon, which is the spawning season for many varieties of fish.

The ban extends to 12 nautical miles off the Odisha coast and applies to all kinds of trawlers and mechanised boats.

“The administration banned all types fishing On April 24 to prevent the entry of people from Bengal as many were found to slyly enter coastal pockets of the state through sea routes,” said Manas Ranjan Sahoo, additional director of fisheries (Marine) department. 

Meanwhile, the fishermen and fish traders are facing losses, according to Abhiram Mandal, a fish trader at Paradip.

The rising number of COVID-19 patients who returned from West Bengal prompted fish traders to withdraw travel to Bengal, said Sumant Biswal, general secretary, All Odisha Fish Producers Federation.

Pomfret, khainga, catla, mirgal prawns and anchovy are the most popular varieties of fish in West Bengal. Following restrictions, many fish traders stopped procurement from local fishermen of Odisha.

Jadumani Mandal, a fish trader in Kendrapara district, said, “We were on way to supply fish from Talacua fishing harbour to Kolkata through two vehicles on April 23. But Nalatiapatia villagers forcefully stopped our two vehicles."

Fish traders can still supply to Bhubaneswar and other areas of the state, according to Mamata Mohapatra, fisheries officer, Kendrapara district.

Meanwhile, the Odisha government shut down Balasore, Bhadrak and Jajpur district for 60 hours from on 24 April after 28 people who returned from Kolkata and their relatives tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

As part of the shutdown, all entry and exist points were sealed and porous borders with West Bengal closed.

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