Fishermen, boat owners and fish vendors all agree that while the announcement that the Bridgetown Public Market will get a facelift is long overdue, they would like the jetty fixed as a matter of urgency.
The fishermen were responding to the statement made by Minister of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey in the Estimates Debate where he asked for $5.2 million to be allocated to the renovations of the fish markets across the island.
Humphrey said the countertops at the Bridgetown complex would be changed to stainless steel and cupboards repaired all by April this year.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY frustrated fisherfolk said to do the repairs in the height of the fishing season was illogical.
A fish boner in the market for over three decades said Government is seeking to renovate the Bridgetown Public Market at the height of the season when dolphin, flying fish and shark are plentiful.
“They want to renovate the market at the wrong time. Fish coming in and they are going to stop people from making their little money. Them should renovate in the hurricane season when the boats are hauled up and no flying fish or dolphin coming in,” she said. While noting that she cannot instruct Government how to handle its business, the longtime vendor suggested that the schedule for repairs be reconsidered.
Fish vendor Tyson Bourne has been operating his stall at the Bridgetown Fish Market for the past 21 years. He said that while he supported the renovations they would put fisherfolk out of work.
“It would be a good thing to get in here renovated, once they do it the right way. Only thing is that while renovating they may put someone like me out of work for a little bit,” Bourne said.
The veteran vendor said he would like Government to compensate fish vendors who are unable to operate while the renovations are being completed at the Princess Alice Highway facility.
“They would have to sit down with the workers and tell us what is really going on,” he told Barbados TODAY.
The frustrated fisherfolk also referenced the issue of renovating the crane at Oistins, saying that they need to have berthing facilities in the Bridgetown facility which holds over 400 boats since they incur high charges when seeking to berth their vessels.
Another fish vendor told Barbados TODAY: “The crane should be down here because down here is where got all the boats. They need to get these old boats that on the land moved. Nobody ain’t repairing them. Right now, we are paying too much money to haul up the boats.
“We got a boat down there for four weeks you are paying $3000 for a month and that is not good, and the boats need repairing bad. The boats hitting the jetty and they have a sign up that you are at your own risk and that is a bad thing for the fishermen,” he said.
He called on Government to fix the jetty and improve security in the area to prevent persons breaking into fishermen’s boats at night.
The fisherfolk also agreed that there is a dire need for attention to be paid to replacing the missing tyres along the jetty which cushion the impact of the vessels. A boat owner, a 20-year veteran of the industry said: “We need to do something with the jetty. The jetty breaking away and there are no tyres in some parts,” he said.
Despite hearing his colleagues’ reservations about the Government’s vow to repair the Bridgetown Public Market, boat owner Hallam Mayers told Barbados TODAY the fishing industry was being rescued by the new administration after years of neglect.
“We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time the industry getting rescued,” Mayers said. He was supported by fish vendor Sharon Bellamy who said that she was happy that the fish market was being given a facelift.