The Lenten season is here and usually the price of fish increases due to greater demand by Christians abstaining from meat.
While prices have increased in San Fernando, vendors at popular depots like Otaheite and Cocorite are maintaining their prices, hoping that they can benefit from increased sales rather than chasing away customers with higher prices.
When Guardian Media visited King’s Wharf, there were few vendors and customers.
Vendor Dhanraj “Bhagi” Ramkissoon said it was inevitable that prices would rise in San Fernando because fishermen continue to struggle with increased cost in purchasing gas. Since the closure of Petrotrin in 2018, there has been no production or importation of regular gasoline. This meant that fishermen had to spend more to fuel their boats with super gasoline. Ramkissoon said as the demand for fish increases, so too did the prices.
“It has increased here because we are not holding plenty of fish as well. Gas is the fault of this and because the price is so high, some fishermen can’t afford to go the distance to catch fish. If the price of gas remains so high, what will happen to the industry in the years to come? We are asking the Government for a subsidy or to bring back regular gas,” Ramkissoon said.
In Otaheite, vendor Mark Boyce said retailers were trying to maintain prices despite fishermen already increasing the cost of some species of fish. Boyce said vendors would usually purchase carite and king fish for $35 per lb and retail for $45. On Sunday, the cost price increased to $38.
“We as vendors also have to adapt to the market with the increase in gas price. Car men are not striking and they consume more than us. It takes $480 to fill our 20-gallon tank,” Boyce said.
But while fisherfolks try to cope with the scarcity of certain species, he said it was also hard that after millions were spent to rehabilitate the facilities the market remains closed. Additionally, there are no ice machines and cold storage facilities.
In Cocorite, vendors are also maintaining the prices they’ve had since Christmas.
Francis (Dass) Allick said king fish and carite remains at $40 per lb while red fish continues at $30-$35 per lb. However, he could not say whether or not prices will change in the short term as that depends on the availability of fish in the sea.
“We don’t mind fish so it is according to the catch. I don’t think it will raise now; the place is so slow that people can’t afford. Fish are selling, but right now it is hard to get Bacheen, Herring and Salmon as we’re not having the right weather at this time. The weather is kind of rough,” Allick said.