This Good Friday, fish will be the preferred dish on many tables among Catholic families. It is a tradition that is related to the day when Catholics typically abstain from meat. Fish was once affordable, but when we made our rounds this morning, it is prohibitively high. In fact, the pound of fish at Conch Shell Bay is more than the regular price of lobster. But what’s taking up the price? The fisher folks say the answer is in the exorbitant price of fuel. News Five’s Isani Cayetano was on hand at the fish market this morning.
Isani Caytetano, Reporting
The convergence of fishermen, aquatic birds and seafood lovers on Conch Shell Bay on Holy Thursday is a spectacle that never fails to amaze. Amidst the heavy traffic on nearby Vernon Street is the familiar din of a buzzing marketplace. On one side pelicans wander slowly and aimlessly along East Canal; on the other vendors engage potential buyers in their routine sales pitch.
Alfred Ramirez, Fish Vendor
“The fish dehn dah eight dollars right now. Right now gas expensive, yo goh out deh yo wah pay nine dollars, eight dollars, five dollars, six dollars. Gas dah twelve dollars a gallon yo check. Now I dah only di clean man ah cyant sell right now cause farm me usually buy and sell. Ah cyant sell because a di way di price dehn di go. So right now as yo notice ah di slice up dis barrow ya and di try hurry dis fi geh wah next job.”
Lennox Lino is one of few seafarers out here today. On display is a fresh catch of snappers, jacks and several other exotic fish lined across the bow of his vessel. It’s been a long morning for the seasoned fisherman, one that saw him heading out to sea in the wee hours.
Lennox Lino, Fisherman
“Normally we woulda just go out and ting a couple days and like right now fi dis Easter we just di try do wah lee ting. Right now we di sell fi like six or seven dollars a pound fuh di jack and ting right now yoh dig.”
While the price per pound of fish varies, consumers like Patrick Thompson have noticed a considerable spike this year as opposed to previous years he has bought fish here at Conch Shell Bay.
Patrick Thompson, Customer
“Hearing from different people, you know, I hear it is very much expensive and that is, the fishermen are saying, due to the raise [in the price] of fuel as well you know, so you know if the fuel raise the fishermen they have to raise their prices too, noh.”
What is apparent is that there is cause and effect between the ever-increasing costs of fuel and the price per pound of fish. As it is their pockets are severely hurting in the wake of the most recent price hike. But it’s a system of economics Lino has had to come to terms with. All the more difficult is that he, like his many friends in the fisheries industry, is having a hard time reeling in a decent catch.
“Ih really difficult right now cause di breeze and ting ahn like all di fish dehn noh really wahn eat and ting so yoh haffi really deh bout di look fih dehn and ting and di bait and ting haad fih find to so ih just scarce right now and ting like that.”
“Right now ih very, very difficult because yoh cyant go fishing weh yoh want due to di tourist season, tourist season weh dih een. [Wid] tourist yoh cyant go weh yoh wahn. So you go fishing weh paat di fish dehn di bite wid Maritime Wings or whatever yoh call dehn wah come pan yoh. Yoh cyant fishing there because it’s a protected area you know and that da weh di hambug we right now so wih noh di get di amount a fish weh wi wahn.”
Despite the scarcity of a generous catch a few fishermen, like my good friend Roy, were out boasting their haul. In his hand is a sizeable king fish, on the other end of the boat’s bow is a medium sized barracuda.
“Honestly, some of the fish that I am seeing out here this morning they are very small, you know. To get the nice, average size fish you have to come out much earlier in the morning to get the size fish weh yoh woulda want. If yoh wait until now or later this evening the size might just get smaller.”
For those who were not able to beat today’s rush the fishermen who vend at the foot of the Vernon Street Bridge say they will be on hand tomorrow morning only. Reporting for News five, I am Isani Cayetano.
When we checked this afternoon, the market was abuzz with consumers doing their last minute purchases of the fish to be had on Good Friday.