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Fishermen blame Aboud for poor sales

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Fish vendor Burton Sammy holds up a king fish at the Cocorite Fishing Facility yesterday. Sammy was among several vendors who complained of low sales since Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) president Gary Aboud cautioned citizens against purchasing certain species of fish caught in the Gulf of Paria in the aftermath of last December's oil spill at La Brea. Photo: MICHEAL BRUCE

Fishermen and fish vendors yesterday expressed distress over unusually low sales during one of their busiest seasons, Lent. The fishermen, who say fish sales came to an abrupt halt after statements made in the media by environmentalist Gary Aboud, are calling on him to apologise and let the country know that not all the fish are bad. 



Last week, Aboud and president of the La Brea Fisherfolk Association Alvin La Borde warned people not to buy fish from the Gulf of Paria because of a fear of contamination from the oil spill in December last year. Dead fish have been floating ashore on beaches in south Trinidad. “The day after he said don’t buy fish, our customers stopped coming,” said Jason Ali, a fish vendor at the Cocorite Fishing Facility.



Ali and group of other fish vendors, showed the T&T Guardian several containers of fish on ice, saying having fish left over daily was not typical during Lent. The fishermen and vendors say they are losing thousands of dollars in fish sales every day. “We have boats working and nobody to buy fish. We turned away three boats selling fish today. We can’t buy it because it isn’t selling,” Ali said.


Containers filled with carite, kingfish, cro cro and salmon remained uncovered at the depot as fishermen said they had seen less than a handful of customers that day. Burton Sammy, who has been selling there for three years, described the situation as strange. “Usually we would see about 20 people here before lunch. Today I saw two customers.” The fish vendors were cooking kingfish fillets when a news team from the T&T Guardian arrived. They said trying to eat some of the fish was their best alternative to watching it go to waste.


The fishermen say their catch comes from the North Coast, from areas such as Blanchisseuse and Las Cuevas. “Our fish is safe to eat. We don’t get our fish from the Gulf of Paria. The EMA (Environmental Management Authority) said the fish is good to eat. We have children to feed and families. “Gary Aboud just made one statement and our sales shut down.” Last week Aboud identified mullet as one of the varieties affected by the oil spill. 


The Ministry of Education subsequently sent a release saying the National Schools Dietary Services Ltd did not use that particular kind of fish for school lunches.


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