Pandit Krishna Maharaj (1925 – 2003)
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Fish prices keep on rising
With a scarcity of fish on the local market, customers may face steeper prices as fishermen grapple to meet the high demand during the Lenten season. Painting a grim picture of a fast depleting local fish stock, fishermen are praying that their catches increase. Fish prices are now at an all-time high with retail prices ranging from $12 to $45. A number of factors contributed to the fish scarcity, they said, including bad weather, sea seismic surveys, shrimp trawling and pollution.
“Right now fish scarce...We not catching fish as before,” said past president of the Otaheite Fishing Community Deoraj Seepersad. “Since before the Christmas the prices high.” He said people believed that fishermen jacked up the fish prices for Lent. “That is not true...We don’t hold fish during this time and there is more demand for fish around this time,” he said.
One of the major factors to determine whether they could meet the demand if the prices were to remain the same, increase or decrease, was the weather, said fisherman Francis Arjoon. Arjoon, president of the Guayaguayare /Ortoire Mayaro Fisherfolk Association said: “We are keeping our fingers cross that we can get fish to meet the demand and that people will get it at a reasonable time...The fish stock is depleting big time.”
He said the 3D seismic survey was a major contributor to the dying fish industry. “For most of 2011, we had surveys and one still going in the south-east,” he said. “It chases the fish away and we don’t have a direct time when they will come back.” Another fisherman, Peter Gloudon, however, identified shrimp trawlers as major culprits and called for the technique to be banned in T&T.
“They are killing the juvenile community (young fish) and damaging the sea bed,” said Gloudon, chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Fisherfolk Association. He said T&T leaders should take pattern from Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez who banned shrimp trawling and instead developed shrimp farming. Noting that shrimp was also becoming scarce on the local market, he said: “If we don’t take the bull by the horn, what we will have is a crisis.
“In the next five years, there will be a total collapse of the fishing industry in T&T,” he added. He said two other major contributors to the decline in fish supplies were marine seismic survey, which were chasing the fish away, and drilling operations on the south-east peninsula which were causing the dumping of chemicals on the ocean floor.