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IT MATTERS TO MARIA: Cry of Pile Bay fisherfolk


MARIA BRADSHAW, [email protected]

IT MATTERS TO MARIA: Cry of Pile Bay fisherfolk

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FISHERFOLK WHO OPERATE at Pile Bay, St Michael, are crying out for better facilities at the small, secluded fishing village.

While the number of people who ply their trade there has increased tremendously, boat owners and fishermen say the facility remains inadequate and outdated.

There is not enough space for the boats, and the fish market is so small that it only contains a small refrigerator, which cannot store all the fish. As a result, fishermen are forced to try to sell off their catch quickly because of a lack of ice.

In addition, while workers from the National Conservation Commission (NCC) clean the surroundings on a daily basis, fisherfolk pointed out that trees had not been trimmed for so long that the branches were actually touching the ground.

“These are manchineel trees out here,” a fisherman said, pointing to the leaves and berries scattered on the ground. He said the fruit are poisonous and children were usually playing in the area, while some people who used the facility had complained about being blistered from the fruit.

“The NCC workers try their best and we help them clean as well, but these trees are growing out of control,” he cried.

A boat owner who would only give his name as Charlie, expressed concern about three boats which were hauled in at Pile Bay but which were not in operation.

He said the boats, one of which was there for eight years, were taking up valuable space.

“One was here for eight years. The owner ain’t coming back for it because we hear he sick, and the other two were here for about three/four years. One get repaired last year and nobody ain’t come back to see about it.”

He complained that one of the boats was littered with debris.

In addition, the boat owner charged that lack of storage was a major issue.

“We have no place to store nothing,” he lamented. “There is no ice for the fishermen and boat owners. All the boats have different owners and the market is too congested. The divers have no place to put their tanks, they have to use the place next door that does repair jet skis, or they does have to go and beg one of the home owners for permission.

“The men who do repairs ain’t got no place to store the fibre glass material. We need a good storeroom out here.”

On the day visited, there was quite a hustle and bustle at Pile Bay and Charlie pointed out it was the norm.

Fishermen were bringing in their catch; workers were in the fish market jostling for space to clean the fish; a group of young people were preparing a wood fire to roast fish; and fishermen, as well as villagers, were liming around interacting.

Most of them said security was also a major issue at the fishing village, as one alluded to the possibility of illegal activity.

“’Pon a night out here does be pitch black. Only one light has been burning for a long time. We find it strange that one day yuh does come out here and the lights does be burning, and then when yuh come the next day they does be out.

We feel people does come out here at night and lick out the lights so that they could do duh thing in darkness,” one person said.

The fisherfolk said it was unfair that they should be forced to operate without light.

“This is we livelihood. Out here does generate a lot of business for a lot of families. It may not be a lump sum, but people make money to feed their families. When men go out and come back in on mornings, there is no ice ’bout here, so the men does have to try to get rid of the fish quick. Things rough, but yuh could still come out here and make a dollar to feed yuh family. So why we have to operate in such bad conditions?” another asked.

When contacted, Chief Fisheries Officer Stephen Willoughby said: “I have no comment other than to say we are working on issues at Pile Bay.” (MB)

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