Over one hundred pounds of fish are dumped weekly at the Otaheite Bay as vendors grapple with poor sales caused by exorbitant fish prices during the Lenten season.
And even though the vendors have slashed their prices as low as possible and some vendors are giving away fish for free, they say they have no choice but to throw away coolers of rotten fish which did not sell.
When Guardian Media visited the Bay on Sunday, only a few customers were seen purchasing fish. Over a dozen vendors were still at the Bay trying to sell whatever they could for as cheap as possible.
Kingfish and carite had dropped from $60 per pound to $45 per pound. Shark, which sold for $25 per pound at the start of Lent, had dropped to $18- $20 per pound. And herrings which sold for $15 per pound was now being sold for $10.
Fish vendor Sunita Cyril said her heart always ached whenever she threw away fish.
“It’s sad because we know there are a lot of people who cannot afford food. People come here with $5 and they could still get a fish to cook. When they come to buy we give them extra. But we are selling for as low as possible and still, people just cannot afford to buy,” she said.
She explained that while people may condemn them for throwing away fish, they could not give away spoil fish to the public.
“People could get sick or die. When the fish doesn’t sell we put it in cold storage and we hope that it will sell but after a few days, the fish spoil and we have no choice but to throw it away,” she said.
Fisherman Ramcharan Partap said higher fuel prices had caused the price of fish to escalate.
“When a fisherman go out there and spend $1,000 in fuel to go to sea to catch fish, he has to recover from the vendor what he spent. Then when the vendors buy it, they have to mark up the price a little so they too could make a profit. But as it stands now, everyone is losing because the price of fuel is high. The government need to do something about this,” Partap said.
Customer Marlon Solomon who spent $300 to buy fish said even though the price is high, people should support the local fishermen.
“They doing the best they can and they work hard when they go out there,” he said.
Another customer, Henry Khan, said he preferred that the vendors throw away the fish rather than give it to customers
“Fish is something that spoils quickly. If it doesn’t sell and it starts to spoil you have to throw it out,” he said.
Atiba Nicholas, who also came to buy fish, said the vendors should sell as cheaply as possible because of the state of the economy.
“Times are hard, people can’t afford,” he added.
Over the past few months, fish vendors and fisherfolk have been calling on the government to give them rebates for fuel. They say many are leaving the industry because they could not afford to pay for fuel.