Dominican fishers face marketing challenges due to COVID-19 says Ag Chief Fisheries Officer

Fishers attending the basis training course

Acting Chief Fisheries Officer, Jullan Defoe has said the fishing sector continues to face a number of challenges especially in the area of marketing due to Covid-19.

“The key areas that would consume or purchase fish from the fishers, the hotels and the restaurants are not operating now,” he said during a recent interview with Dominica News Online. “Even now, as we do not have that level of restriction, there are still marketing issues.”

According to Defoe, a lot of fish is being sold across the country at reduced prices.

He said in the past there had been a “fairly good” level of export of fish to countries including St Kitts, St Martin among others, however, because of the restriction in these countries, the level of export has decreased.

Defoe also explained that the State-of-Emergency declared in Dominica last year due to the effect of Covid-19 prevented a number of fishers from going to sea at the preferred time.

“Fishers were not able to go to sea at the early hours that they used to, like 4:00am and enjoy a better catch,” he remarked. “So they were forced to go to sea later in the day after the curfew was lifted.”

He said that hindered their fishing operations.

“Fishers do not go to sea early just because they want to get out of their bed early, there are fundamental reasons why they go out early,” he pointed out, adding that once fishers had returned from sea, again because of the restrictions, they had very limited time to sell their catch.

“That is compounded with the problem of adequate ice storage,” Defoe revealed.

He said also that because of the effect of Hurricane Maria and the damage done to the facility in Roseau, there is a shortage of ice for fishers to store their catch.

He said fishers, like all other citizens, have been very cooperative in following the protocols issued by the Ministry of Health.

“We have found our fishers to be very cooperative  in  terms of the general protocols…wearing of their mask, vending and interacting,” Defoe stated.

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