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Fishermen cry poor sales
With just one week left in Lent, San Fernando fisherman say they are reeling from low sales even after reducing prices by as much as $20. Fishermen at the San Fernando Wharf complained yesterday of slow sales which they attributed to an influx of imported fish products on the local market. Vendor Justin Thorpe said he is selling at a loss because customers are not buying as much fish as expected.
“We are getting licks from the imported fish...Some (customers) come and they said the grocery selling cheaper so they buying fillet fish,” he said. Thorpe said sales were also slow because Hindus are fasting for the festival of Shiv Raatri. Fisherman Bhagie Ramkissoon said he reduced his prices to attract customers, but it was to no avail. He said: “We not getting the fish sell fast. People don’t have money to buy food. We have enough fish for Easter, but people not buying so we have to ice some of the fish and try to sell it.”
Ramkissoon has lowered prices this week and is selling carite and king fish for $35 a pound. He said customers have a variety of fish to choose from, including salmon, cro cro, carite, herring and shrimp which is plentiful. Another fish vendor, Roger Hayes, agreed with Ramkissoon that sales could be better. “Fish is selling very, very reasonable...Sales does be up and down but it not as powerful as it could be,” he said.
However, Salim Gool, president of the San Fernando Fishing Co-operative Society, said supplies of fish are limited in the market. He said: “Three days now we have not seen carite. There is no fish in the market, all we have is herring and that is selling three pounds for $20. It had a lot of shrimp but that is all. We have no carite, king fish or salmon in San Fernando Market.”
Gool said hoarding of fish is contributing to a shortage. “When the boat owners catch fish they are keeping it to themselves, for their families and special customers, so it is not getting to the market,” he said. Lawrence Toussaint, president of the Gran Chemin Fishing Association, shared Gool’s view that fish supplies are dwindling.
He said in the south-western peninsula fish is in short supply and “the fish grounds are declining.” He blamed decreasing fishing stocks on oil and gas exploration around the country. Toussaint complained that fishermen are not being compensated for their losses. He said: “The fishermen are going through all of types of problems and most of the country feeling it. Exploration going on and that driving away the fishes. They are sensitive things, they not settling in the areas, they are just passing by.
“You lucky to get 100 pounds today and tomorrow you will get 30 pounds in the same area and all of that will reflect the prices,” he said. A representative of a popular San Fernando supermarket chain, who requested anonymity, said there are sufficient supplies of fish in the supermarket. “We have good stock of fish for Lent and Easter weekend. Our fish supply is well taken care off. The general feedback on the local market is that the fish prices are too high and the fish we have is selling,” the representative said.
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