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Dr Doon Ramsaroop, chief executive officer of the Seafood Industry Development Company Limited (SIDC), said although the company is making efforts to promote low preference species of fish as a source of more affordable food, numerous factors are contributing to seasonal fluctuations in prices.
He said over the past few years there has been a general increase in the average price of fish.“Factors contributing to decreased fish landings and high prices of fish locally are a combination of declining stocks, changing consumer preferences towards fish as a main source of protein, influence of intermediaries, human impacts—pollution, urban and agricultural activities, oil and gas exploration and recovery—competition for coastal space, increasing production costs, increasing cost of imports, piracy and changing climatic conditions,” Dr Ramsaroop said in a statement yesterday.
He commended Food Production Minister Maharaj for fast tracking fisheries legislation so that resource management plans could be developed and implemented. Dr Ramsaroop added: “Enforcement mechanisms should also be put in place and resources provided to ensure compliance. It is also important to support sector unification and stakeholder buy-in in the development of fishery management plans to ensure effective implementation and compliance. These developments would support alternative sources of supply through aquaculture or in-land fisheries, value added product development and the creation of marketing and distribution channels that reduce the influence of intermediaries.”
He said government’s policies and initiatives have relieved some consumer burden and quoted Central Bank statistics which show that in June 2010, food prices jumped sharply to 31.1 per cent, up from 19.4 per cent May and 7.0 per cent in March. “On a monthly basis, food prices rose by 9.6 per cent in June—the highest monthly rate of increase in well over a decade. The price of fish had registered a year on year increase of 13.5 per cent. In 2012, food price inflation slowed to 14.9 per cent in November and eased even further to 12.7 per cent in December. The price of fish had, by then, registered a decrease to 8.2 per cent,” Dr Ramsaroop said.