“We are only allowed to fish here during the tourist off-season” Says a Bijilo Fisherman

By Sailu Bah

Narr Jobe, a young fisherman in his early thirties, complained that they areLocal fishermen only allowed to operate and land their catch at the Bijilo beach during the tourist season.

He told this reporter recently that the place is designated as part of the Tourism Development Area (TDA) and as such they are being prevented from working on the beach.

Jobe said they live in Bijilo and entirely depend on fishing for their livelihood but that this restriction during the tourist season deprives them of work and income.

“Since they are calling on young people not to be lazy, we are striving to be productive on our part but are prevented from doing work,” said the young Bijilo fisherman.

He said he is appealing to the authorities to allow them to continue with their fishing activities all throughout the year.

On the other challenges facing them, Mr. Jobe said they are in need of life jackets to put on while fishing out at sea as they use paddle boats.

“Because of our limited earnings we do not have the financial capacity to purchase such working gadgets,” he revealed.

Pa Njie, the head of one of the fishing boats, also raised the issue of low catch which is a common concern to the fishers along the coast, adding that this affects their income.

“Another issue of concern to us is the fishing trawlers that damage our nets while fishing at sea. The authorities have to help us to address this problem as nets are very expensive and cost between D4000 and D5000,” said Njie.

Mr. Njie said they are local fishermen who use paddle canoes because they cannot afford to buy outboard engines and fuel,” he disclosed.

A fish monger who lives in Bjijilo said the business of buying and selling fish is on the decline due to various reasons such as low catch, lack of preservation and transportation facilities, among others. Pape Joof, said he has been in the business for more than 10 years now but that it is no longer profitable.

“I used to buy fish from local fishermen at the Bijilo beach and ride my bicycle to sell to customers in the village and other markets in Kololi, Sukuta and even Serekunda,” he said.

He also raised concern on the high cost of ice blocks which, he said, has risen from D2.50 to D10 or D15 now.

“We buy Bonga fish which is the cheapest from the beach at five for D10 and sell at three for D10,” he disclosed.

Talking to some of the customers who come to buy fish at the beach, they said it is cheaper there than in the markets.