Increased rent, a code of conduct and a new dress code are among changes on the horizon for vendors at the Berinda Cox Fish Market as the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy seeks to improve the standard of operations at the southern complex.
As spanking new stalls were officially opened, Minister Kirk Humphrey declared that key measures would be implemented in the interest of improving the standards for those working in the industry.
He however said key changes would come with a financial burden, some of which vendors would be required to carry. As such, the days of the 75 cents per day currently charged to rent a stall in the market would soon come to an end.
“We will need to have a conversation at some point about how we are going to compensate the use of the market, but that is another conversation for another time. As it stands we pay 75 cents and I know that most of you agree with me that you all need to pay a little bit more. It wouldn’t be too much more,” he said.
Other changes include a new dress code, which Humphrey argued would reflect the fact that fish vending is a core occupation in Barbadian society. This would be accompanied by a code of conduct and stiffer security measures to guard against those who use the market to trade things “other than fish”.
“I have also said that the security in this market must change and as it stands now, people have open access to the market. And while we have an open and honest government there are some things that you have to close and the market must close on evenings.
“Many of you have told me that you are integral to the tourism industry but you are also integral to Barbados and you must reflect the values that we wish to be reflected in Barbados,” Humphrey stressed.
During the unveiling, it was evident the market had undergone a facelift. Stalls and floors had been gutted and replaced with “commercial grade” counters, pipes and roofs.
Despite the notable improvements, Humphrey acknowledged extensive work needed to be carried out on fish markets across the country and even on the Oistins jetty, which is rapidly deteriorating.
“One of the things that has troubled me over the last year is the state of the facilities in the Ministry of Maritime Affairs. This market we are repairing is not the only one. You could pick any market and you would see that almost any market under the ministry has fallen into complete disrepair over the last few years and so we have a vision and mission in the ministry to repair all of the markets one by one, day-by-day and step-by-step. So I feel good today, but I will feel better tomorrow when we could say we have fixed all of the markets in the ministry,” he said.
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Representative for the Christ Church South, Ralph Thorne thanked Humphrey for following through on his promise but stressed work on the boatyard was long overdue.
He added that the entire Oistins area was in desperate need of improvement and announced he was discussing solutions with interests in the private sector.
“We see Oistins as a whole. There are separate areas including the boatyard, the market and the bay garden but they are all organically tied to each other and I always say it is this boatyard and it is this bay garden that give to this town its identity and Oistins will not be Oistins unless there is an active fishing community and there will not be an active fishing community unless the government continues to commit itself to ensuring the fishing community survives. For as long as there is a place called Oistins, it is this community that gives this town its character and we are proud of that,” he said to loud applause. [email protected]