Nation e-Edition

Fish vendor to the bone

Fish vendor Wendy Popo joined the industry more than 25 years ago and today she is glad she did. (Picture by Lennox Devonish.) Long-standing member of the fishing industry, vendor Wendy Popo, skilfully cutting up a dolphin.

By Anesta Henry | Wed, November 07, 2012 - 10:46 AM

Wendy Popo was sceptical about getting involved in the fish industry when she was introduced to it more than 25 years ago.

To her, standing in a fish market scaling fish was anything but attractive for an 18-year-old.

But when she weighed her options, scaling fish was much better than sitting in her mother’s house unemployed and on the verge of boredom.

Today, at 44, Popo is a fish vendor operating in the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex, thanking God for putting fish in the sea.

“I send to school my children and made life out of scaling, boning and selling fish now,” she declared during a recent interview with the MIDWEEK NATION.

The Wednesday Woman said she hopped on board the fishing industry when word got to her mother that a fish vendor in the market was in need of a couple of girls to give a hand in scaling fish.

She was a bit unsure, but Popo sailed to the market and soon after, with a knife in her hand, she started scaling fish at $7.50 per 100.

Chuckling at the memory, Popo said from early in the morning until after eight o’clock at night, she was still trying to reach her 1 000 flying fish target.  

“When I was much younger, my stepfather used to bring home a crocus bag full of pot fish and as young girls we used to have to stay there in the yard in front a tub and scale every one of them. But this was much more different to doing that,” she explained.

While developing the ability to scale faster – she can now scale and bone 1 000 flying fish – Popo paid great attention to her employer as she sought to learn how the business was run.

“Doing fish has helped me to achieve what I have achieved in life, especially raising my two girls and one boy. It helped me to send them to school and raise them to the best of my ability. But it is a very hard job. It ain’t easy at all.”

The vendor explained that leaving home early in the morning to purchase dolphin, marlin, flying fish, billfish, swordfish, kingfish, tuna and others from the boats in the complex was tiring at times.

She said it called for commitment to purchase ice to load into her glass case to put the fish on. It called for patience for a fish vendor to carry out the tedious task of scaling fish and boning fish. And one must have a positive outlook while waiting for the fish to be sold, especially in the current economic climate.

“Sometimes, you come in here at seven o’clock on mornings and sometimes you don’t get home until eight o’clock. When you come in here and work on a day, you go home so tired sometimes. But it is just your faith in God that does help you to get back into the market the next morning to sell to your customers.”

But she does not regret joining the fish business.

Throughout the interview, she was glowing and smiling at the thought that one of the oldest industries in Barbados and her loyalty and commitment to it helped her to not only achieve her personal goals, but also contribute to nation building.

“I ain’t regret coming into the fishing industry. Right now, things are slow in the industry, but I still come in every day and sell as much fish as I can because it is an income.

“And nobody can send me home from them workplace because I work for myself. I make my own decisions, come in at my time. I sell my fish and I enjoy selling fish.”

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