Fish sellers hoping for a bountiful Easter season after two years of declining sales due to the pandemic are keeping their eyes peeled, hoping for a miracle as the traditionally buoyant period has yet to come to life.
Easter is traditionally a time when they sell out in large volumes as Christians observe their most important celebrations. Fish is usually the meal of choice, especially on Good Friday, as they abstain from meat to acknowledge and do penance for the death of Jesus in a tradition that dates back centuries.
While fish markets have traditionally been teeming with customers at this time of year, until yesterday some vendors lamented that they had yet to see the expected influx of customers, fearing another disappointing year.
Keisha Russell-Brown recalls buying up to 5,000 pounds of fish to resell daily in past seasons, but this year she drastically reduced her stock to a meager 300 pounds due to high prices and, sometimes limited supplies as fishermen occasionally return empty handed.
“I don’t see the increase in sales, honestly,” she said. the gleaner yesterday when few potential customers crowded the New Forum Fishing Village in Portmore, St Catherine.
“Usually as Easter approaches at this time of year I would normally see more people coming to buy fish. I don’t know if they wait until tomorrow (Maundy Thursday) but for today I can’t say I’ve seen an increase in sales,” she added.
Russell-Brown, who has been in the business for nearly 20 years, said the fishing village used to be usually buzzing with activity as early as Monday.
She believes that the current retail price of between $1,100 and $1,500 per pound could be prohibitive for some customers.
“The price is ridiculously high. Even if I sell it, I can tell you it’s ridiculously high,” Russell-Brown said, adding that she expects a low profit margin this Easter season.
“Right now, I’m just happy to say I’m going for fish,” she said, explaining that anglers have struggled to catch significant catches since January.
Bad weather also prevented them from venturing outside, she said.
“It’s worse than I’ve ever seen in my entire life, we’ve been fishing,” the seller added, noting that if it hadn’t been for the larger transport vessels coming ashore as opposed to to traditional canoes, she might not have been able to get a single pound to buy.
Maxine Brown-Dorma also lamented the “trickle” of customers.
“We are still looking for better days tomorrow and the day after tomorrow,” she said optimistically, however.
High gas prices
In addition to the reasons given by her colleague, Brown-Dorma said the price of gasoline is also causing fishermen to venture out to sea less often than they normally would.
“It makes it virtually impossible for fishermen to come in and sell cheap fish so the seller can get a good price so we can sell and make a quick sale,” she said. the gleaner.
“We don’t have enough money to buy because it’s more expensive,” she lamented, revealing she was only able to buy 500 pounds of fish instead of her usual 3,000 pounds. .
She did, however, express her gratitude for what little she was still able to earn as she anticipates bigger sales on Maundy Thursday and even on Good Friday morning.