The fish are not biting in the north this Lenten season, forcing vendors to go south for their catch. And with Easter just 19 days away, the neighbourhood fisherfolk are worried that business simply will not rise to the surface this year.
A visit to Six Men’s in St Peter and the Millie Ifill fish market in Weston, St James revealed concerned fishermen and vendors feeling like fish out of water, hoping for an Easter miracle, but accepting the cold, hard fact that the waters around them seemed devoid of fish.
“It’s not going good here in the north, not much at all. What most of these vendors are doing, they go into Bridgetown and buy fish and come back and keep their clients in the north satisfied,” retired schoolteacher and boat owner Pedro Hinds told Barbados TODAY, as he tried to figure out why the creatures of the sea were avoiding the north.
He has concluded that it all has to do with climate change, arguing that those who were successful at catching the favourite flying fish, for example, were the owners of larger boats with sufficient ice to venture far out to sea.
“The ones going into the south east, they haven’t been so fortunate this season,” Hinds said.
This is not the first time that Hinds has experienced ups and downs during the Easter season. However, this year seems particularly bad, and this has driven up demand in Bridgetown, thus pushing up prices for vendors and customers alike.
“Last week the prices were good – they were $50 a 100 [flying fish], but I heard they’re back up now to $80 for 100. So we have to keep our fingers crossed and I hope that the season gets better,” he said.
For Keely Gibbons, a vendor at the Millie Ifill fish market, the shortage has hit her pocket hard.
Forced to travel to Bridgetown for supplies of about 1,000 flying fish, Gibbons must compete with other vendors just to get her hands on the catch so she can have something to sell.
With the price higher than usual due to the fierce competition – coupled with the fact that this is the Lenten season – Gibbons must add transportation and other costs, yet keep prices down, she told Barbados TODAY.
“If you want the fish you have to go get it. We have to compete with the others in town so we have to move early. Flying fish is really popular right now so we have to go get it.
“ I really don’t know why the fish not catching down this side and it has been going on before the season start. You still can’t charge too much for the fish because they won’t sell, everyone can’t afford to spend $25 or $30 for a bag of flying fish so I keep mine at $15 and I get them sold,” she revealed.
Another vendor, Cynthia Holder, who plies her trade at Six Men’s, would have liked the fish to bite so local fishermen could haul in their catch in the small fishing community just north of Speightstown.
However, with the current scarcity, she has adopted a philosophical approach to the situation.
“Sales are up and down, sometimes in between. We aren’t getting any fish down here, we have to go in town. Anything we want we have to go in town to get, but it is what it is,” Holder said.