In this week’s edition of Women’s Weekly, the columnist visited the Tanji Fishing site to seek the opinion of fishmongers on what led to the high cost of fish in the market.
Some women fishmongers attributed the high cost of fish to nature, poor fishing methods and the high cost of fuel. Below are the excerpts of their views on the issue.
Mrs Mansi Sonko
A fishmonger, Mrs Mansi Sonko said she started selling fish some years ago. According to her, fishmongers cannot be blamed for the high cost of fish;, arguing that it is entirely not their fault. She noted that their customers always complain of high fish price, “as you can see, one plastic container (pan) of fish cost us D3000, D2000 and, sometimes, it cost D1000 when there is plenty of fish. “We bought the fish from the fishermen from a high price and from there we buy ice blocks in order to preserve the fish, which is also expensive,” she added.
In highlighting some of their constraints, Mrs Sonko said that they needed market where they could sell their fish. Due to lack of ice block, which is very expensive, and the fact that their cold room at the fishing centre contains only 100 pans, makes them realise alot of loses. She further called on government to come to their aid by helping them with things like loans, as they have too much responsibilities.
I stopped going to school when I was in grade 5, because my parents could not pay my school fees. In order to survive and make ends meet, I decided to come to the beach site in order to earn something to help my parents and myself. The work I am doing here is very hard, but I do not have other option; as you can see, “I carried a big plastic container (pan) full of fish; yet they pay me only 4 or 5 catches of of fish. And on selling them, I make some cash,” she said.
Women are responsible for our children school fees, uniform, feeding and a lot of other issues. We have been in this business for a long time now, but these days things are getting worst. We buy fish at high cost; although sometimes we make profit, on most occasion we don’t. This is largely attributable to unavailablity of ice block. At the end of the day, all your fish gets rotten, which is always a big loses for us.
Another factor responsible for the high cost is that our youths don’t go to sea; it is only foreigners that go for fishing, and when they come with their fish, they sell it at any price they wish. We have no option but to buy. Our youths are preoccupied with the idea of going to Babylon, refusing to work for their own country. In this situation we are poised to continue experiencing this high price of commodities in the country, which is not good for us, especially the women.
They said that fish is expensive at Tanji, but they don’t know the hardship we encounter. Who is to be blamed? I blame our youths because they don’t want to work.
Jainaba Saidy (Fish smoker)
Most of us working here are women, but as you can see, our processing centre is tight; fire wood is very expensive, and also we need a market where we can sell our smoked fish. This is because over there at the Serekunda Market, where we sell our smoked fish, the authorities have since evicted us. So it has been difficult for us. We are appealing forgovernment to come to our aid.
Many other fishmongers complaint that there were lot of boats in the river, and that the fishing nets they use could not catch big fish. The said they only go for the small fish, which means that the big fish are not caught.
Asanatou Bojang contributed to the story