The world entered Christendom’s Holy Week yesterday, a week typically anchored by a ritualistic feast of fish and seafood – a windfall week for fishermen. But the new coronavirus (COVID-19) could change that this year, as curfews and social distancing will likely remain in place, and fishermen and Potter’s Cay Dock vendors await the government’s next move.
Dwayne Bastian, better known as “Tall Boy”, who is the president of the Bahamas Docks and Allied Venues Association and a stall owner on the dock, told Guardian Business yesterday that many of the vendors are hurting since the government put its emergency orders in place, shutting down their businesses.
Bastian said fishermen who sell their catches at Potter’s Cay Dock are not happy with the government’s orders, while food vendors are forced to remain closed and watch franchises like Wendy’s and KFC remain in business.
“Fishermen are having issues, because when they sell their fish to the fish house, they don’t want to give them what they want for it and then the fish house turn around and then they making all the money. So just these big companies making all the money,” Bastian said.
“You got Burger King open, Wendy’s open, Kentucky (KFC) open…these big businesses. All of us are restaurants.
“We are small business people on Potter’s Cay Dock, so why can’t I open one window and serve my customers through one window? It didn’t have to be conch salad, it could be hot food. What you do for one, you have to do for all.
“The small entrepreneurs can’t open. When I look, Kentucky buss wide open. Potter’s Cay Dock shut down, Arawak Cay shut down, all these other restaurants shut down. It’s sad.
“We understand about the pandemic and the virus and stuff, but what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
“If you can go to the food store, why can’t you come to the fisherman? A lot of people will be missing out in terms of people going to the dock this Easter. Out there is better to buy fish when you look at it because it’s a wider space. If you want to give people their six feet or ten feet, whatever, you sit in the car until one person gets served and then the next person comes up.
“When you go in these fish houses, you have to go inside air condition and central air…that’s where the danger is.”
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Michael Pintard told this paper that he will address the immediacy of food security in the country in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and address this typically busy week for seafood buying.
According to Bastian, there are also natural dangers fishermen cannot protect their catch from and they have asked the government to assist.
He said centipedes often attack the conch they store in water to keep them alive, the same conch they have to sell to the fish houses to earn a living.
According to Bastian, things seem unfair to fishermen and vendors at Potter’s Cay who simply need to make “a dollar”.