Ahead of a five-day emergency powers shutdown that started last night, scores of people shopped for fish port-side at the Miss Maggie on Potter’s Cay Dock.
Though orders from the prime minister forbade the retail sale of fish at Potter’s Cay, and social distancing rules were not being adhered to, people stuck to their Good Friday tradition.
One officer stopped his golf cart next to the Miss Maggie to reprimand customers who crowded near each other to place their order for Goggle Eyes, Snappers and Hog Fish.
“Even though y’all ain’t supposed to be out here buying, you have to social distance,” the officer said.
Miss Maggie’s owner Lofton Culmer immediately assured the officer of his and his customers’ compliance, and continued selling his fish.
Culmer pointed out that fish is a Easter/Holy Week tradition in The Bahamas, and a good time for fishermen to make some money.
But this year, due to the emergency orders put in place by government to stem the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Culmer said there is a shortage of fish, as fishermen have moored their boats for the season to wait out the effects of the virus on The Bahamas.
“The tradition that we have in our country right now.. Holy Week.. everybody now on Sunday eats fish, so therefore this is a good time for fishermen, even though there is a shortage of fish. Because of the virus a lot of boats just off-loaded to the wholesalers and went home,” said Culmer.
“Only two people on the dock has fish right now. So for us it’s very productive.”
The prime minister’s emergency orders mandated fishermen to sell their catches directly to wholesalers and not to retail their catch on the dock.
“They say no roadside vendors, we not really supposed to be selling, but the policeman told us as long as we could keep our social distance a safe distance, and control the crowd, we’d be able to help the customers,” Culmer said.
“We make more money when we retail because what the wholesalers make on their retail market we’ll make the same things.
“When we sell wholesale we don’t make as much money, so it’s good for the fishermen who have fish at this time to sell it, because it’s better for their business. They could do more things. They have bills to pay, children to take care of… they can do these kinds of things.”
Easter is a traditionally business time for both fishermen and stall owners on Potter’s Cay Dock. The usual numbers of fish buyers were unmistakably absent from the dock, and the typically bustling roadside stalls sit shuttered and unused indefinitely.