A group of at least 20 fishermen and vendors gathered at the Montagu Foreshore yesterday to protest the continued closure of open markets since mid-March.
Fisherman Milton McPhee, a 47-year-old father of nine who said he has “been fishing nonstop from 1988”, said it’s the only way he can support his family.
“This is the only thing I do,” McPhee said.
“This is all I do to feed my family. Fishing pays the bills for me…
“I have nine kids, and then I’ve got a couple of the neighbor kids who I help. So, it’s not just me.”
Alexis Moss, 43, a vendor at the Montagu ramp, said without the market open, she’s falling behind on bills.
“I am a vendor out here,” Moss said. “It’s impacting me.
“Please, I have a mortgage. I have bills to pay [and] I’m falling behind.”
Noting that she’s not the only one affected, Moss added: “Each stall, they have, like, three to four fish cleaners. That is their only state of employment right now.
“I doubt they even have NIB, some of them. So what are they doing?”
Fish markets, including the Montagu ramp and Potter’s Cay Dock, were ordered closed as of March 24 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But with some non-essential businesses being allowed to resume activity yesterday as the country moves into phase three of the government’s planned re-opening, the fishermen and vendors at the Montagu ramp said they just want to be given the same opportunity.
They indicated pumps at each station on the ramp, which they said have running water to allow for sanitation; and white lines drawn on the pavement served as markers for where would-be customers could stand six-feet apart.
Fisherman Gregory Brown, 55, who identified himself as a representative of the Montagu Ramp Association, said the workers are all prepared to comply with sanitation measures in order to resume business.
“We’re pleading with the government…give us a chance, please,” he said.
“We’ll appreciate it. We’ll abide by rules and regulations what [are] put forth in the book.”
Brown added, “I don’t know what [phase] four is going to bring forth, but we hope that in this week coming, [the government] could allow us to come and work on Montagu ramp so we could feed our families.”