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Apr 17, 2012

Conch Season closed early

Fisher folks have a ten-day grace period before the early closure of the conch season takes effect. That period expires next week Monday and the season will re-open on October first. The official explanation is that the conch quota has been exhausted; but tell that to the fishermen who earn their living from the conch.  They say that the closure of the season two months early is hurting pockets and their families. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The conch season is set to close early; two months before the usual closing period and fishermen are not happy. Seasoned fisherman, Oliver Sutherland, says he simply can’t understand why the season is being closed before June thirtieth.

 

Oliver Sutherland

Oliver Sutherland, Fisherman

“Of course, I nuh happy because then when they close the season due to the cooperatives and deh come and tell we that the season close and then weh happen to all ah we out yah weh di live off ah it? Weh we fi do? Deh di export the outside and tell we that the amount weh the season mi need, deh done get enough. Weh happen to all ah we out yah weh di live off ah it? We dah the consumers. Weh we wah do?  Since deh close the season weh we fi do? This real because we depend pahn deh and this real but now that the season di close before the time. Now if deh find we with conch now deh di look fi shet we done. And normally we fi have an expansion time fi live off ah dis conch, but now, how we wah live?”

 

Francisco Chan, Conch Diver, says the notice was too short. Those in the market, say that it will only be the “small man” to feel pinch:

 

Francisco Chan

Francisco Chan, Conch Diver

“This come in a few days because deh mi supposed to close it like a two weeks aback and su they give us ten days that they will close it the twenty-fourth of this month, suh I nuh know, maybe the government or the fisheries should give us a lee month notice to tell us that they weh close the conch season.”

 

Daniel Hughes, Conch Diver

“I dah wah know the government weh di mek deh law yah if deh really di think bout the poor fisherman deh weh nuh really got nothing fi inna the space ah time of dah two months deh. We dah wah know weh deh got fi we do because if we deh out yah and got pickney fi feed, loan fi pay, we got lotta things fi do. We wah know if the bigger heads deh di think bout we weh deh down smaller pahn the hustling side yuh know.”

 

Andrea Polanco

Daniel Hughes

“So since you nuh wah di dive conch fi the next two months, what dah your plan?”

 

Daniel Hughes

“My plan, well I wah have to try shoot fish, fishing line or something like that fi tray maintain my pickney deh yuh know.”

 

And that option has fishermen concerned; they say that the conch divers will now saturate the local fish market, which is already under pressure:

 

Rambo

Rambo, Fisherman

“Most of the time the fish divers deh work the conchs deh and then when the season close fi deh, deh get deh back pay and go home and haul up deh boat and repair it. But like how this is a close season now, nobody prepare fi it right and then ih affect fi we fisherman because everybody wah go into the fish and then we have to drop the price of the fish because then the market get flooded with fish, that dah the way how I see it with the fish.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, really and truly ih wah mek things harder fi unu as fisherman?”

 

Rambo

“Yes, harder fi we out yah and then gas done gone up; gas deh dah heights cause then ih wah cause wah lotta transaction out yah inna lata days to come inna dis market yah. Next man wah come and wah space fi park deh boat. And then with the season di close we wah barely could get ice from the co-op; Deh got wah problem dah co-op right now fi get ice fi the fisherman dem.”

 

Fisherman Nelson Young says he believes the situation can reach a breaking point because it will affect too many:

 

Nelson Young, Fisherman

Nelson Young

“When the Cray fish season set, we agree because the crayfish spawn young one…you di look fi wah big war pahn yuh hand.”

 

But with the date set for the twenty-fourth of April, these men will be without jobs until September thirtieth:

 

Oliver Sutherland

“Deh need fi tighten up that, yes man and then deh di reserve everyway and how we wah live off ah that. Weh we fi do? I dah wah fisherman si my boat down deh. Weh I gwein go du, ketch lone fish out deh? When yuh get out deh the gas dah two hundred dollars.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Suh this two months early wah really cramp unu?”

 

Oliver Sutherland

“Really affect we! Because then deh yah guys yah live off ah that. We go out and ketch wah lee bit fish and conch. Lobster season close suh dah mi only fish and conch and you could ketch. Weh yuh wah do? Nothing! Yuh cyaa do nothing.”

 

Daniel Hughes

“I nuh really like weh we di si. We put in the people deh, we vote dem back in and we need fi si wah betta industry yuh know. We nuh wah si wi di go down, we wah si we di come up. Just like the cane farmer people deh yuh know. How about we? We nuh even di get no duty free gas, nothing and then deh still di tek weh more things fah we.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

 

Officials from the two main fishing cooperatives in the city were locked up in meetings today so we couldn’t get their reaction to the plight of the fishermen. 

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