The Goan Fish Tales

Fish is considered as the staple diet of the Goan people. All humans use readily available edible resources and slowly develop a culture around it and the knowledge is passed from generation to generation. Fish became an integral part of Goan diet from prehistoric times (50000-60000 years before present). Goa has an unenviable culture showcasing different ways communities look at, understand, worship, love/hate, catch, cook and serve fish.

Goa being rich in freshwater and marine ecosystems offers free, highly diverse (about 250 species of fish and shellfish) fisheries resources so the culture of catching fish developed much before animal husbandry or agriculture. Due to early semi-nomadic settlers who camped first in Mandovi and Zuari river basins about 50-60000 years ago and developed the practice of catching fish using different gears.

Fish was a staple diet in ancient Goa even before the caste system was developed so almost all ethnic Goan communities are found to utilize fish in their food but there are clear taboos about meat. After the advent of GSB (Goa Saraswat Brahmins) migrants the legend of Sage Saraswat saving the Vedas by consuming fish from Vedic river Saraswati became popular and the Brahmins too justified consumption of fish by taking support of this legend and those further added to popularity of fish recipes. It was so that fishing became an occupation for the people of Goa and with this occupation many livelihoods thrived on.

The catch

In the earlier times fishermen used fishnets to catch fish and used to go into the seas with their boats.These boats were mainly named after various saints, where the fishermen believed in these saints to help them while at work and they may not fall prey to any calamities. This activity of fishing is mainly carried out during low tide. The fishermen then plunge their nets into the sea and wait for the fishes to fall into the trap. After a certain aiting period the fishnet is pulled out of the sea with the help of 10-12 people.

Sale of fish

The process of selling the fish or doing business was done in a unique way in the earlier times; only men with their cycles went from village to village selling fish.Their cycles were made with special provisions for selling fish. There were certain places to sell fish in villages; these places were called as 'tinto'. As the years passed by, women started selling fish by going from village to village by caring their baskets atop their head.



Pic Credit - Shivang Mishra I NT GOGOANOW.COM