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Fishermen hoping for big catch

rhondathompson, [email protected]

Fishermen hoping for big catch

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LOCAL FISHERMEN SEEM to be making modest investments in the industry.Fishermen at Cheapside in The City, Oistins in Christ Church, and Six Mens, St Peter, have reported spending $100 000 to $150 000 on wooden deep-sea fishing boats but also lamented their inability to invest in more reliable glass-bottom or fibreglass boats.They told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY in separate wide-ranging interviews about the fishing business that fishermen primarily owned wooden boats that were costly to maintain, but they could not afford fibreglass vessels.Boat owner Hallam Mayers, who operates from Cheapside, said after he was declared medically unfit he spent approximately $160 000 in July 2009 to overhaul an old boat and launch his fishing venture as a boat owner.“I had some money and decided to invest it, hoping some returns would come, but none ain’t coming,” he said last week.He noted that his boat could carry a catch as big as 35 000 to 40 000 flying fish and 100 dolphin fish.  “It has the capacity to bring that, but it don’t bring that. I ain’t get no lotta fish this year,” he said, noting that his expenses were great.“If I buy $5 000 in diesel, [the crew] may only use $1 000 to $1 200 in diesel, $400 in food and $900 in ice, they would have to take out that money, the rest of the money split in half, half the crew get and half would come to the boat owner,” he said, detailing the average spend for every eight- to nine-day trip.He said boat owners could only invest in different types of boats if they got a bigger market for their fish and many people with deep-sea boats were running at a loss.Also, navigational equipment was integral to bringing in the catch, Mayers said. In fact, he was considering a loan to invest in a $6 000 automatic pilot for his boat Pride and Joy.“If your boat is not the best, you would not get the best fishermen. You got to have sophisticated equipment. I don’t have no automatic pilot. I got to try and get one now. It steers the boat, ease the pressure off your shoulders and [keeps] your eyes from straining. “If you got a automatic pilot, you put it on a course and lock the pilot and the boat steering. All you got to do is watch in front to make sure you don’t hit no boat or nothing. “Not a cent”“If you see a boat, you would just take off the pilot, shift the boat and then put it back on course,” he explained.Meanwhile Winston Jones, a fisherman of 50 years and another boat owner plying his trade from Cheapside, said for the last two years he did not earn “a cent out of fishing”.On Monday he reported owning two wooden deep-sea fishing boats, but with one of them “all I get is problems, problems with the engine, problems with the boat. . . .“If I take this boat in right now,it will take another $60 000 to make it fish like [his other boat, 271 Prudent Lady] all round to fish for tuna [for example]. This one only bringing in flying fish and dolphin, and when July, it finish. “The tuna you could get a better market because we export them to the United States. I have to take it and put it on the dock and it won’t go out before November, if God spare my life.”On Wednesday at Oistins, 70-year-old Kenrick Nurse said he too owned two wooden deep-sea fishing boats and they were well equipped with nautical equipment.Nurse, who said he has been fishing since he was 18 years old, acquired his first deep-sea fishing boat some eight years ago and the second, four years later.“The boats cheaper than fibreglass boats and worth about $150 000. A fibreglass boat is about $250 000, $500 000 for some of them boats,” he said.He pointed out the VS radios that picked up signals about 16 to 20 miles away and other “big radios” on The Roderick and The Ken.“Then you have to have the [global positioning system]. If the weather bad, that would tell you how far you is, how the boat steaming, what time you will get to shore. . . . The equipment alone for them boats is about $30 000,” Nurse added.Rawlins Skeete, a boat owner and fisherman at Six Mens with 30 years’ experience, said on Wednesday that he had been operating his deep-sea fishing boat since 1989 and had built it himself.“It was a day-boat before I re-class it. A boat like that now cost $150 000 to $160 000. It is expensive to get a fibreglass boat because one of them will run you in the vicinity of over a quarter-million dollars. And the wood boat is very hard to maintain. “Right now I have to be doing my work on my boat myself, fortunately for me.”On whether a fibreglass boat was better for business, Skeete said, “Yes, but you ain’t got the money, you ain’t getting that kind of money coming in to invest in a fibreglass boat.” (SR)