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Rough seas for fisherfolk

Carlos Atwell

Rough seas for fisherfolk

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Times are tough for Barbadian fisherfolk and for those who rely on the fishing industry to make a living.
From captains to carpenters, many are feeling the pinch of reduced fish stocks in local waters.
Nester McDonald Yarde has been painting fishing vessels for more than 30 years. Operating from the Berinda Cox Fish Market in Oistins, he said the lack of fish resulted in boat owners being less inclined to pay for his services as they had less money to spend.
“I usually help boat owners paint their boats but I don’t really get a lot of work. The fish are not coming to land; like they are taking a different direction so fishermen not making money,” he said.
Anthony Joseph does many things but at the Berinda Cox Market he works with fiberglass and, unlike Yarde, is seeing plenty of work. He was sanding an icebox when he was seen by the SATURDAY?SUN.
“I mostly work when it’s out of season but I get quite a few people calling me because of the type of job it is,” he said.
Joseph, a 15-year veteran, said working with fiberglass was “very technical and dangerous” so it was a job whereby one could make a living once one knew what one was doing. He said a high pain threshold was important.
“I enjoy it but it can get miserable sometimes with the itching. It is a mind over matter thing; this is just something I have to bear with,” he said.
Things did not look quite so bright for boat owner Glyne Lovell. An owner for around 35 years, he lamented the high costs of operating a vessel.
“The hardest part is the amount of money we have to pay a crane to take in and carry out our boats – $1 880,” he said.
Lovell said Government was doing nothing to ease the problem and criticised both the previous Barbados Labour Party administration and the Democratic Labour Party for leaving an imported crane idle at Fisheries [in Bridgetown] for more than five years.
He said Government granted $2 000 to boat owners but this was far from enough. However, he said he could not blame Government as it had always been this way.
In addition, he said he had spent a further $16 000 in repairs and would need $5 500 for operational expenses.
“There’s a chance I can get back my money [out at sea] but there’s no guarantee,” he said.
Boat captain Nicholas Squires complained there were too many people making suggestions and changes to the fishing industry who had no idea what they were doing. He said locals should be more involved.
“That beach out there has changed the tides,” he said, referring to the artificial beach along Welches, “I used to catch 20 pounds of sea cats [octopus] out there but now can hardly get two pounds. People are building things without knowledge of the sea. They need people like us instead of people who come in,” he said.
At Silver Sands Beach, fishermen said the fish were not biting any harder either. Renald Price said the intakes were way down.
“I went out three weeks ago and only catch about 4 000 pounds of flying fish. That is low because normally I could catch 30 000 pounds,” he said, adding that his only choice was to keep his head above water.
Price said he was a diver, boat captain and more, but work was slow. However, everything was not all gloom as the area was known for something else – kite surfing.
“Things are going good with the tourists. Kite surfing is big now and out here big for kite surfing,” he said.