PANAJI: Fish traders in Goa today stopped operations in protest after wholesale markets in the state were raided by the Food and Drug Administration to ascertain the levels of formalin in fish.
The protest resulted in a scarcity of fish across the coastal state, said officials.
Officials said that FDA teams first raided and sealed operations at the Margao wholesale fish market and seized 17 trucks carrying fish.
The FDA action at Margao market was after a preliminary "on the spot" analysis of fish showed the presence of formalin or formaldehyde, said officials.
The move, however, upset fish vendors who asked their counterparts in other fish markets, including those at Mapusa and Panaji, to stop operations as a mark of protest.
The vendors continued with the shutdown despite a meeting with Goa Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai who also discussed the matter with Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
The situation eased, said officials, after the FDA certified that the formalin content in the fish was within permissible limits and that it was safe for consumption.
While today's business, generally conducted in the early hours of the morning, got stalled due to the protest, fish markets are expected to remain open tomorrow, they added.
FDA Director Jyoti Sardesai said two of its teams had fanned out, since 4am today, in the fish markets in North and South Goa districts.
"The South Goa team visited the wholesale fish market at Margao and collected samples of fish, mainly from the vehicles arriving from states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka," she said.
"These samples showed the presence of formaldehyde. Hence, as a precautionary move, we instructed fish vendors to not distribute it till detailed laboratory reports were available," she informed.
The fish was then tested at the FDA laboratory in Bambolim near Panaji, the official said.
"The results showed that the the presence of formalin was within permissible limits. The fish is safe for consumption," she added.
The FDA Director added that fish tested from Panaji market in North Goa also showed the same results and were then declared fit for consumption.