- Goa has nine different state symbols that cover everything from animals, birds, and fish, to trees, fruits, flowers, musical instruments, and sports. In celebration of Goa Statehood Day on May 30, ItsGoa is highlighting a different state symbol every day for the next few days.
When we think about the concept of Goa having a state fish, it makes for a great discussion. For people that really love fish, opinions will definitely be divided, and let’s face it, the chances of a clear winner will be slim. While Mackerel is a very popular choice in most households because of its economical price point, the white pomfret definitely tastes better. Alternatively, the Kingfish strikes a good balance and is a popular choice, especially with thalis. But all these aside, it turns out that the actual ‘crowd favourite’ and Goa’s official state fish is actually the Striped Grey Mullet, or as it is locally known in Konkani, Shevtto.
Why was Shevtto chosen?
According to former Directorate of Fisheries Director Dr Shamila Monteiro in a statement made during the official announcement back in 2016, “Shevtto is the most loved fish in Goa and that’s the reason it is now the State fish.” She elaborated saying that even though mackerels and sardines are available all along the Konkan coast, Shevtto is available everywhere or anywhere in Goa. “You find Shevtto on the coast, the jetties, Khazan land, rivers, freshwater and everywhere from North to South of Goa”. Another unique aspect to the Shevtto is the fact that one doesn’t need to go out on a trawler to catch this particular fish. The Shevtto can be caught in a rampon, katalli, khuttanni, simple net and even with fishing rods or a lambari – almost all the methods used in Goa to catch fish.
With an average catch of 280 tonnes per annum, the mullets contribute to about 7% of the total inland fish production along Goa and the major contribution (about 80%) is from the GreyMullet. Thus this humble fish holds an important role in the fisheries livelihood and socio-economic scenario of the coastal fishermen in Goa. In terms of the value of the inland and coastal fish production in Goa, this species holds a significant contribution.
A unique kind of fish
The Striped Grey Mullet is a species of mullet from the Mugihidae family under the order Mugiliforme. They have a dark green to bluish grey colour on their backs with silvery grey sides and a white belly. The scales are rather thick, and the fish itself ranges anywhere from two to four kilograms. That’s a pretty hefty fish! The Grey Mullet is considered to be a very ‘clean’ fish. This is because it consumes only algae, preferring to live inshore, entering lagoons, estuaries and rivers. Apparently, the eggs or roe is considered a delicacy. The Grey Mullet can live to about 16 years old with maturity occurring at 9 years for males and 11 years for females. Unlike a lot of other popular varieties of fish found in Goa, the Grey Mullet spawns from January through April at sea. The eggs develop in the sea, and once hatched, the babies migrate inshore, colonising the intertidal zone and estuaries.
The Grey Mullet or Shevtto is in many ways the perfect state fish. Like the people of Goa, it is a simple fish, easy to work with, and versatile. What do you think of the Shevtto? Is it one of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.