Fisherfolk reported Monday that their vessels that found safe harbour at the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex ahead of Hurricane Elsa were spared serious damage.
But at Oistins, one fisherman is of the view that Government should make good on its long-held promise to provide boat owners with a crane so they can move their boats out of the water.
Hallam Mayers told Barbados TODAY that his vessel was already moored at the Bridgetown complex prior to the hurricane’s passage as it is undergoing repairs.
He said: “The fishing industry is worth some $70 million and all the governments have refused to give us a crane that we can get the boats out of the water and help rebuild the industry after the storms pass. The way I see it, three days ahead we can get about 200 boats out of the water, when the storm passes we can come back out and go into other ports to get food or carry things elsewhere, like we did in Grenada, Dominica, St. Vincent and St. Lucia. I would prefer my boat out of the water than in it when bad weather is coming because when it is in the water you cannot control it from the high winds.
“You can haul up a 37-foot long boat for $25 to take it from [Consett Bay]and another $25 to bring it back. But for me to move my boat from here to Oistins where I live, I would have to pay Hinds Transport’s crane $7,400 to move it to Oistins and another $7,400 to take it back to Bridgetown. And I haven’t even started repairs on it yet!”
He noted that the Arthur administration had put a crane in the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex just before it lost the 2008 General Elections, but the Stuart administration never put the equipment into service.
Mayers added: “People feel that $3 million is too much to pay for a crane to help the fishing industry, despite the fact that it keeps between 8,000 and 10,000 people in Barbados off the breadline. They are telling us we have to pay for the services of a crane, yet I see tractors all over the place at the different agricultural projects at Spring Hall, Groves and Haggatts, and I don’t hear anybody telling those farmers they have to pay for those tractors.”
But Mayers said that he was pleased to report that even though the complex was overcrowded, none of the larger boats broke away from the moorings to smash the smaller vessels.
“With this system, the winds came from the south and the water was going right over the quays by the rocks,” said Mayers. “[Hurricane Elsa] was travelling fast, and a fisherman down here who was tracking it on his GPS put in the coordinates and discovered that the eye of the storm actually passed over Barbados. Those hard winds from the south is what would really put us in trouble down here.”
Met officials have not confirmed that the eye of the storm passed over the island, but reported that the centre of the tropical storm which was declared a category one hurricane on Friday morning passed about just south of the island. Windspeeds of 74 mph gusting to 82 mph were recorded at the Grantley Adams International Airport which triggered the cyclone’s upgrade to hurricane status.
Two other fishermen reported their vessels were in good condition after the storm as well. One who gave his name as Andrew said: “We had a lot of high winds but everything turned out good. If they could fix the jetty here things would be a lot better.”
Frank Armstrong said: “My boat was actually out fishing before the storm came but we managed to get in before it hit. In fact, when you’re out and a storm is coming it’s best to head in otherwise you’ll put your boat in peril. I can see they are doing some repairs down here which the market really needs, and hopefully, when it is finished it will all be good, and luckily there was no damage to anyone.” (DH)