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Apr 9, 2020

Buying and Selling Fish During an State of Emergency!

Easter is cancelled – that’s the message that Belizeans heard straight from the Prime Minister. This Easter the country will spend under a state of emergency and curfew hours will remain in place, so the usual local travel and across the border will not happen.  At this hour, many families would have taken to the coastal communities and cayes to socialize with friends but that tradition is not happening this year. But one that will be observed in many homes is the preparation of fish for Good Friday. This morning we visited the fish market in Belize City to find out how fish is selling during this time when the country is under a state of emergency. Here’s the story.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Selling and buying fish while social distancing at a fish market is tough but that’s what the crowd at the Conch Shell Bay Market tried to do this morning. When we stopped in around ten, there was a steady flow of buyers in the area – not all of them were keeping to three feet or more rule – most were just trying to get the best fish at the best price before the usual Easter rush. Police were in the area but it appears enforcing the three feet rule wasn’t so easy.

 

Sebastian Nunez

Sebastian Nunez, Fish Cleaner

“If you notice, it nuh the happen right yah at this time right now but as you go in a couple minutes police wah come and it wah be a social distance thing. That’s where the problem the come in with the social distance but dah by the law and we nuh wah go against the law and because dah fi we safety I ride with the program. Many the do it and many nuh the do it. When police deh around everybody the act inna it and some people do act it when police nuh deh round but majority deh on their own. People nuh have no fear bout this thing.”

 

But despite the new rules, fishermen and other workers at the market were busy trying to sell off their fish. Some say that business was fairly slow, while for others, under the circumstances it was better than expected. But they all agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused business to slow down because buyers are not coming out as they usually would for an Easter week.

         

Dale

Dale, Fisherman

“Right now it slow and it bad because of the corona.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“You think that the keep people home?”

 

Dale

“It di keep them off.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How much fish you bring in this morning – how many pounds?”

 

Dale

“Like about two hundred.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“And how much ah that you sell off so far, you think?”

 

Dale

“Like roughly eighty pound to a hundred pound.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How business di go today?”

 

Hetta Marin

Hetta Marin, Fisher Vendor

“Okay per normal, I guess.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, people di come buy?”

 

Hetta Marin

“Yes, people di come buy their fish per regular. They keep their distance and everything the go normal.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, you nuh see the COVID-19 the affect your business?”

 

Hetta Marin

“That’s why I stay over here by myself. It the affect we yes and fish di come in less and people the fraid fi come shop so buy and sell fi me kinda hard right now.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So this Easter week look very different from last year for you?”

 

Hetta Marin

“Much. Much. Much different.”

 

Sebastian Nunez

“Thank God for the lee levity today because otherwise than that things tight and things bad, real bad. Fi today and this lee scraping, thank God for the lee shilling because we could stretch we lee shilling. It rough because ah the flu; the virus weh deh say deh bout and how the law set right now. To abide by the law we di punish.”

 

Alvin Jones

Alvin Jones, Fisherman

“The business kinda alright and thing. It di go a lee kinda way but you know how it go.  I nuh raise my price on my fish. I keep my fish at the same normal price you understand me because I have people weh I deal with weh come every week weh come deal with fish.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, when you talk regular price per pound, how much you the talk?”

 

Alvin Jones

“Eight dollars a pound; six dollars; seven; five. I have friends and sometimes I would give them a little fish or two.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Weh kinda fish people di look fah out yah today?”

 

Alvin Jones

“People the look for any fish weh they could get; snapper, barrow, mackerel, king fish anything you got fi sell.”

 

Fish prices varied from vendor to vendor. Small snappers were going for five dollars a pound, while other vendors would sell for eight dollars. Fish at some stalls were going from twelve dollars and up. Several buyers complained about the high prices for small fish – one buyer says the price should be regulated.

 

Mr. McLaren

Mr. McLaren, Buyer

“We know they have to make a living but when they double price it’s chancey because we are all in financial crisis right now and why these people gaggle up the price for a short time and normally when these things are not available they fish is so cheap on the market. There should be statutory instrument so that everybody stays in line with the price and nobody gaggle up the prices because when they do that who punish? The smaller people really need it these guys just take the money and take advantage of this situation.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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