Fisherfolk warn of increase in Tobago fish prices after oil spill

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Lucia Hazzard buys fish from Balram’s Something Fishy on George Street, Port of Spain on February 15. – Faith Ayoung

ALL TOBAGO Fisherfolk Association (ATFA) president Curtis Douglas says Tobagonians should brace for an increase in fish prices during the Lenten season into Easter.

He said the oil spill, which has tainted the waters along Tobago’s south-western coast since February 7, has already seriously affected the sector.

The oil spill from an overturned barge has affected significant segments of the coastline in Tobago and several agencies have been deployed to clean up the shoreline and suction the remnants of the hydrocarbon off the water.

“Basically, as how we have been affected by this, you will see less fish on the market and it is quite possible the price of fish might raise due to the current situation in our marine space,” Douglas told Newsday.

Fish, depending on the size, was being sold at $25-$30 per lb before the oil spill.

He said for some reason the price of fish increases every Lenten season.

There is a bigger demand for fish during the Lenten season as people abstain from other meats.

“It seems there is a trend whereby we are seeing something always happening for the price of fish to go up around Easter time.

“We will try our best to see how best we could cover that so that people could still have that staple on their plates at a reasonable price. But it is quite possible it could be raised given the circumstances that we are weathering right now.”

Douglas said fishermen from Scarborough, Lambeau, Buccoo, Black Rock, Mt Irvine, Plymouth and Culloden had already been seriously affected by the spill.

During a news conference on February 14, at the Scarborough Lay-by, he said fisherfolk had been sharing their expertise with representatives of the agencies involved in the containment phase of the eradication process.

“We have learnt to lay booms, and work with the (water) currents by sharing our information and experience as fisherfolk in Tobago about the waters and the climate in Tobago, from the fishing aspect of it.”

Douglas said more than 30 fishermen and over six fishing vessels were involved in the clean-up process.

“We are on hand and ready for action at any given time to be called upon each day to ensure we safeguard and protect our environment or the fishing industry.”

He observed a considerable amount of oil has already been removed from the Scarborough waterfront, Milford Road.

“So we are working assiduously to ensure that our fishing industry is protected.”