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Expect fish at $100 a pound for Lent
Consumers are being told to brace for an increase in fish prices and could be asked to pay as much as $100 per pound for the Lenten season leading up to Easter. This as fishermen complain of shrinking fishing stocks. Yesterday Salim Gool, president of the San Fernando Fishing Co-operative Society said last Christmas fish prices increased up to $60 per pound and he expects the prices to increase further for Lent.
He attributed the increase to a litany of woes affecting fishermen, including oil and gas exploration, which he said continues to drive away fish, and trawlers which are destroying the fishing grounds.
“This Christmas we saw the reality of all these things that was happening. Fish prices reach $60 a pound and we expect it to reach $100 for Easter. It do not have (fish) and it is going to reach there. We are not hiding the facts, that is going to reach there. The fish price has reached at $60 and that is a major increase for the nation to meet,” Gool said.
Yesterday Lent officially began and with it comes the high demand for fish, a staple for Christians observing the a period of fasting from meat products. Gool said fishermen were facing a daily struggle to provide enough fish to meet consumer demand and keep prices affordable. He is calling on Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj to meet with fishermen in a bid to keep prices down.
Yesterday Kishore Boodram, president of the Claxton Bay Fishing Association, said sales at the Claxton Bay fish depot were fair. He said he did not expect significant increases in prices yet, but said one was on the way. He blamed it on pollution. “Not much boats went out (yesterday.) So far wholesale prices for salmon was $20, and racando, $7 and $8. Not much carite and kingfish coming in.
“It is too early in the week to recognise the increase, but there will be an increase, because the area is really polluted at the moment in the gulf. It is an almost similar situation for us as in San Fernando,” he said. Boodram said around this time of year fish was usually scarce. He advised consumers to buy the cheaper species.
“There are many other species of fish that will be selling under $20 a pound. I do not see anything wrong with eating other fish. They have the same amount of nutrients and some have even much more than carite and kingfish,” he said. Gool complained that prices would continue to rise because those in authority had not heeded the fishermen’s complaints.
“None of the issues that they have said in the past years, like the water taxi, the oil and gas exploration and the trawlers, were addressed. All governments for the past 30 years have not addressed any of the issues affecting the fishing industry. This is why today we have this,” he argued.
San Fernando boat owner and fisherman Booby Sooklalsingh warned that the fishing industry was slowly dying and the increasing prices are a forewarning that a “fish famine” was coming. “The problem is the government not really looking after (fishing) because they do not really care about food. They have to come now and investigate it. “It is food, it is famine just like famine of the land. The increase of the prices is just an introduction to a famine. The government is not protecting food,” Sooklalsingh said.
The National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (Namdevco) Web site has listed the price of carite at Norris Deonarine Northern Wholesale Market and Port-of-Spain and Orange Valley Wholesale Fish Market as $77.16 per kg.
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