Monday, April 22, 2024

Fisherfolk left out to sea


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TIMES ARE TOUGH for the fishing community of Six Men’s, St Peter.
Not only is money hard to come by in the current economic climate, but the fish have apparently all but abandoned the area as well.
The DAILY NATION visited the area to get an idea of how the fisherfolk were doing as it is Easter and Barbadians traditionally turn to fish at this time. What was discovered was that while the fish are selling, they are mostly taken from Bridgetown and brought up the West Coast.
Angela Ifill was boning and scaling flying fish for sale. However, she said none of them had come from the area.
“I had to go to Bridgetown fisheries to get these or I wouldn’t have anything at all.”
Ifill added fish came and went in a cycle for, as of late, things were looking more lean than normal.
“Last year December they weren’t bringing in fish at all but fish started to come in in late February and early March, although they still aren’t plentiful. I think the fish varies with the tides,” she said.
Her fisherman brother Grantley Ifill was nearby, also scaling fish.
“One boat brought in 13 flying fish a day and another has two dolphin (mahi-mahi) but nothing to really work with. Four weeks ago they had a lot for a few days but we usually have to go to town to get fish. This is a fishing village but we have to go to town to get fish,” he said, lamenting the cost in fuel to go back and forth.
Ifill explained the day boats used by fishermen in the community could only go out so far due to the fact they had a limited time before returning to shore. However, the fishermen in Town used ice boats and could go out to sea for a week at a time and as such could go much further.”
Bentley “Vegas” Foster had his own theory on why fish were scarce in the area, blaming man-made pollution.
“Years ago we didn’t have so much toxic waste. People would go outside and dig up grass around their homes but now we use Gramoxone and Round-up and when the rain falls, it washes it all into the sea,” he said.
Foster said the businesses on the West Coast as well as the plantations were also to blame as when they underwent industrial cleaning or sprayed their crops, the chemicals invariably found their way into the ocean and damaged the reefs.
“Without a reef, there is no moss or sea eggs and without moss and sea eggs, there is no fish,” he said.
Othneil “Saint” Scantlebury lamented that he spent hours at sea to no avail.
“I worked from 6:30 a.m. to about 1 p.m. and I only bring in about six pounds of pot fish. The fish are 30 to 40 miles and more out to sea, but the day boats can’t go so far; years ago we didn’t have to go so far. We are just surviving but in God we trust,” he said.
Lucina Skeete also said she put her trust in God. After more than 20 years in the business, she said it was neither the best nor the worst of times.
“Three years ago was the worst season we had in a long time. Still, it is not very good because the day boats don’t catch anything and if I had to depend on them, I would dead. Still I trust in God; He will provide.”
Despite the problems, there is still no stopping a Barbadian looking for fish. One customer, who declined identification, said she left St Michael to come up to Six Men’s because she wanted the best fish.
“I want the freshest fish I can get because I am saving it for someone going overseas so I want day boat fish,” she said.
As for her personal Easter use, she said she had already bought flying fish and marlin.


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