Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 9th 2014 Contents A9
March 9, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
The Lenten season has started
off on a bad note for some fish ven-
Vendors from two markets---Tuna-
puna and Arima---claimed that last
December s oil spill in La Brea still
have them fighting like fish out of
water to survive.
They say consumers are still scep-
tical of fish safety as a result of the
oil spill, which depleted an abun-
dance of fishing stock and wildlife.
On Ash Wednesday when Arima
vendor Alphie Williams thought sales
would have improved at the start of
the Lenten season, there were no
buyers for his heaps of fish.
"Look at this stall...it like a ghost
town. In all my years selling fish in
this market, this is the worst. Nor-
mally a day after Carnival I be busy
selling to customers," he complained.
Williams said even though he pur-
chases fish from the north coast,
customers are still reluctant to buy.
If sales continue to dwindle,
Williams said, he may be forced out
"No one is looking at our situation.
Our livelihood is under threat."
Williams sells carite, king fish, red
fish, cro cro, cavalli, moonshine and
The prices of the fish vary, with
carite and king fish fetching as much
as $40 per pound.
Next week, Williams said, he
would offer consumers tilapia, which
can cost between $12 to $15 a pound.
Feeling the pinch
"It s a cheaper fish but I don t
know if people would buy it seeing
that it s reared in fresh water. I am
going to take a gamble and hope for
the best. I am trying new things to
woo customers...but nothing seems
to be working," said Williams.
Williams said if demand outweighs
supply, the price of fish could escalate
A few stalls away, vendor Errol La
Foucade said while sales have
declined, customers are still buying.
"Yes, the oil spill is still having its
effect on vendors. But what can we
Arima mayor George Hadeed has
promised to speak to Williams, stating
that he was not aware of the vendors
Neville Maharaj, the lone vendor
at the Tunapuna Market, admitted
on Thursday that business has not
been booming for him since the oil
"Consumers are generally afraid
to buy.... that is the bottom line, and
we are feeling the pinch. Even for
Lent, fish sales are generally slow."
Maharaj said another drawback
was that the market has no car park
facilities for customers.
"Drivers would take the chance to
stop off at the side of the road to
buy a few slices of fish and when
they go back to their vehicles they
are faced with a $1,000 ticket by the
police. Just last week this happened
to one of my customers. Do you think
that person would come again? You
getting lick up all around."
Maharaj: beware price gouging
Food Production Minister Devant
Maharaj said a possible "artificial fish
shortage" claimed by fishermen and
vendors might be one way to "jack
up prices and gouge the eyes of con-
In a free market economy, Maharaj
said, it would be difficult for Gov-
ernment to clamp down on rising
fish prices during Lent.
Maharaj said while vendors usually
hiked fish prices at this time, there
was "no draconian measure" or law
to deal with the ongoing issue.
Last year, Maharaj said, T&T began
increasing its tilapia production and
even took the initiative to import
tilapia from Guyana recently to meet
the growing fish demand for Lent.
While he pointed out that not
everyone would have a palate for
tilapia, his ministry recently started
a demonstration project of inland
San Fernando fish vendor Dhanraj Ramkissoon, shows off his fish as he
laments that they no longer are getting a variety of fish. PHOTO: RISHI
Piles of fish, but slow sales
Consumers wary of tainted food in
wake of oil spills, say fish vendors
King fish: ...............................$40/lb
Cro cro: .....................................$12/lb
Red fish: .................................$22/lb
Mixed fish: ....................$20/4 lbs
Shrimp: small: ...................$20/lb
CHARLES KONG SOO
After criticisms from Fr
Joseph Harris and Central
Division Senior Superintend-
ent Johnny Abraham on Car-
nival lewdness, the Sanatan
Dharma Maha Saba (SDMS)
says it will be cracking down
on any Carnival-like vulgarity
at Phagwa celebrations.
SDMS secretary general Sat-
narayan Maharaj said this at the
SDMS headquarters in St
Augustine yesterday, during the
SDMS/Republic Bank Primary
School s Chowtaal Sammelan.
About some women s Car-
nival behaviour, Maharaj com-
mented: "It s obscene: a woman
with only a little panty, with
no brassiere, wining in the most
He said it was not only black
or Indian girls involved in las-
civious behaviour at Carnival,
but white-skinned women, too,
who "wanted everybody to see
what they had."
Maharaj noted: "We had the
same problem with Phagwa cel-
ebrations, because at one stage
it had reached a point where it
was pure alcohol and the most
obscene behaviour and dancing
that occurred. We had to step
in and give it a different direc-
tion. What you see here is a new
direction that we have charted
for Phagwa celebrations."
"If Carnival was a Hindu
occasion and it degenerated like
this, we would be furious. That s
why you see we re spending so
much time with our children
to ensure that they understand
and are inculcated with good
He said he was in full support
of Fr Harris and others who had
observed the degeneration of
behaviour at Carnival.
Maharaj said as $190 million
of taxpayers money was
involved in Carnival, paying for
mobilising of the police service
and Defense Force, then every-
one had the right to comment
on whether they were satisfied
with the investment, regardless
According to Minister of the
Arts and Multiculturalism Dr
Lincoln Douglas, the Govern-
ment spent at least $202 million
on Carnival. Maharaj said there
must be equity in the distribu-
tion of state resources when it
came to Carnival and East Indi-
an cultural events.
Maharaj said he was calling
on Government to have dia-
logue with the Catholic Church,
as Carnival was essentially a
He defended the launch of a
Catholic mas band saying that
it should be a model for the rest
of Carnival bands on how to
conduct themselves. • See pho-
tos on page A19.
Sat to crack down on
vulgarity at Phagwa
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