Divers in Martin’s Bay, St John made sure to get an early start to the sea egg season, as the one-month window for harvesting the delicacy opened on Saturday. But they are concerned that with what appears to be depleting stock, supply will not meet demand this year.
When a Barbados TODAY team arrived in the area this afternoon, fisherman Livingston Clarke and his brothers Leslie and Trevor Clarke were cleaning the day’s catch.
A diver for 53 years, Livingston said this year’s supply did not match last year’s.
“It’s not plentiful. If this here was plentiful, when 10 [o’clock] I would have finish catch what I catch through here. But I had to wait until after 12 [o’clock] to get a small catch,” said the seasoned fisherman who had been out since 6 a.m.
“Last year, the sea eggs were much more plentiful than now. There is no comparison this year with sea eggs like last year. The quality is about the same, but much less sea eggs. Not even a quarter as much as what was on the coast last year.
“It start out poor. There are a lot of divers and they are not finding a sea egg at Martin’s Bay,” the 62-year-old fisherman contended.
Livingston, who has been diving since the age of nine, argued that the stock of sea urchins was diminishing.
Taking into consideration his day’s catch, he suggested that harvesting might finish before the October 31 close of the season, and further cautioned that the commodity would soon be depleted if excessive farming continued.
“You can’t go much further into the sea egg season; there are no sea eggs! Just now the sea eggs finish. I don’t even think they going to last from now til Wednesday,” Livingston contended.
“The best catch already. Those out there are scanty and don’t have in anything really that they should catch them. I think that they should leave the sea eggs alone,” he argued.
“Let [the sea eggs] catch back themselves,” added his brother, Trevor.
Last year was the first time in almost a decade that divers were allowed to harvest sea eggs.
Another Martin’s Bay diver woke up at the crack of dawn to be sorely disappointed. The diver, who requested anonymity, told Barbados TODAY that the ban should have resumed this year.
After hunting in Bathsheba and Martin’s Bay, he concluded that the stock was not plentiful.
“If the sea egg was plentiful, you would have seen people gone from here long time ago,” he said. “They don’t have no sea egg, from Long Bay to Ragged Point, from Ragged Point to Consett, them don’t got no sea egg”.
A diver from the district, who goes by the name Oventon, suggested that authorities change their approach to the season.
“The ministry can ask the divers, at a certain time period, to come together and let we go on the same sea egg grounds and let we catch the sea eggs and put them in certain boats and let we take them and distribute them at different bays so that we can have them at all bays, rather than everybody converging at one bay and diving it completely out and diving it into extinction,” he said.
Concerned about the impact on the environment, Oventon added: “One sea egg could give off three million in its life span. Imagine, if we take them out and scatter them in certain bays outside of where people bathe . . . You just need to put them out on the reef and you would see that we wouldn’t have this problem.”
The seasoned diver also held fellow divers responsible for the small quantities of the urchin.
“Nuff of these divers know that [the sea eggs] ain’t got nothing in them and still going to dive them just because of the money, and that’s not right,” Ovention said.
“Everybody should have the environment in mind. If you looking to make money from this thing, give back to the environment and the environment will give back to you.”