The Lenten season has long been the annual highpoint of the fish trade, but this year fisherfolk are struggling with slow sales this season.
With the scarcity of the nation’s staple, flying fish, prices have climbed as much as 66 per cent with the winged culinary delight fetching in $25 for a package of ten.
According to vendors at the Bridgetown Fish Market, the ten-dollar increase is chasing away customers.
Stall owner Allison Cyril told Barbados TODAY: “Sales are slow because the flying fish is too expensive, and it is scarce. When boats go out you can’t count on them bringing back flying fish. It is just too scarce, and it cost too much.”
Cyril’s point of view was supported by fellow vendor Sharon Bellamy-Johnson, who said larger fish such as dolphin have bolstered sales thus far. She also expressed confidence in the predictability of Barbadian last-minute shopping and expects a rush for fish in the last week lead-up to the Easter weekend.
“We are getting turpits, dolphin and marlin as usual. We are hoping that things will pick up because Bajans [Barbadians] are last minute shoppers and we are hoping that on Holy Week the sales will really pick up.
“Right now, we are getting a few sales mainly on the weekend and persons are mainly buying dolphin, which is eight dollars per pound,” she said.
Another vendor, Nicey, complained that sales have been the slowest in her 15 years as a vendor. But she chalked it up to reduced spending power.
“I really believe that Barbadians just don’t have the money to spend,” she told Barbados TODAY.
“The price of the big fish is about the same as it was last year but if people don’t have it to spend then sales would be slow. Last year the flying fish was between $15 and $18 but it gone up this year, not because we are trying to rob people, but gas has gone up and fish scarce. So right now, I have to thank God for the little and hope that things pick up later down in the season.”
Several fishing boat operators blamed the scarcity of flying fish on unseasonably cold waters surrounding Barbados, forcing fish to migrate to warmer southern waters.
As he berthed his vessel at Berinda Cox Fish Market in Oistins, captain Marlon Jack told Barbados TODAY: “This is not the first time that we had this type of scarcity and this is because the water is cold.
“You can’t fight nature and if you want Flying Fish you have to go really far out and that is a lot more fuel and a lot more risk. The reality is that these things will cost.