“High cost of fuel, low catches Hinder Business” said Sanyang Fishers

By Rohey Jadama

The fishers at the Sanyang fish landing site along the Atlantic coast have Smoked fish shed in Sanyangdecried the high cost of fuel and low catches as the major constraints in their work.

Speaking to this reporter at the site on Friday, 8th August 2014, the fishers explained that the cost of fuel is higher in Sanyang than some other sites and that this makes their expedition relatively more expensive. They also complained about low catch which, according to them, is mainly caused by the destruction of their nets by the big fishing trawlers at sea.

Assan Jassey, a fisher, said the big trawlers are destroying their nets when they spread them at sea, thus resulting in low catch. “We are always afraid of these boats when out at sea as they end up destroying our fishing nets if we are not careful,” he said.

He also revealed that because of the problem caused by the big vessels, many of their colleagues have stopped fishing there and returned home.

Modou Puye, another fisher, said business is not faring well nowadays as they do not have adequate catch. ”I buy 40 liters of fuel per expedition which is very expensive,” said Puye.

He said they catch the varieties called “Calamareh” (Octopus) and Shoal fish which they sell to the sea food companies and the middlepersons “Bana Bana”.

As for Alagie Gassama, he explained that he normally catches the fish variety called “Chaalo” or “Kobo” (Bonga). He said with this variety, sometimes they can have abundant catch and that their customers are the middlepersons and the fish smokers.

Mr. Gassama said he normally buys 20 litres of fuel per expedition, adding that the high cost of fuel is really affecting their incomes.

“The price of fuel is more expensive in Sanyang compared to other landing sites,” said Mr. Gassama.

On how to increase their catch and income, the Sanyang fishers said they need to have access to soft loans to buy more fishing nets and boats, adding reduction in fuel price as well as putting in place regulations or control measures at sea to eliminate the possibility of bigger vessels damaging their fishing nets is also important in the enhancement of their work.

This reporter also proceeded to the fish smokers at the same site.

Talking to one Famara Jadama, a fish smoker, he said the business they are doing is faring well. He said he buys a big basin of Bonga fish from the fishermen in Sanyang at a cost of between D225 and D250. “We have customers who come here to buy smoked bonga fish and we also transport some to the provinces such as Basse, Jarra Soma, Brikama-Ba, etc. where it is sold between D500 and D700 per container,” he said.

He said they mainly smoked and sell Bonga fish, but sometimes they have orders from customers to smoke Cat fish for them.

Madi Gitteh, another fish smoker, lamented the high cost of firewood and limited number of fishing boats at Sanyang that cannot supply them with adequate quantities of fish to smoke.

“Transporting our smoked fish is also another problem that we have to contend with as there is no Fisheries Officer here in Sanyang which makes us to travel all the way to Tanji in order to get the required papers to transport the stuff to the provinces,” narrated Mr. Gitteh.

He also showed the worn out corrugated iron sheets covering the sheds and said they cannot smoke fish when it is raining as water comes down all over the place from above.

The issue of access to soft loans was also raised by Mbenba Sonko, one of the fish smokers. He said this will help in increasing their capacities to be able to maximize and improve on their production. “Sometimes due to the scarcity of fish, we don’t work for 3 to 4 months because the boat owners always give priority to the middlepersons who sell fresh fish,” he explained.

He concluded by calling on the Government and other donors to help them erect a building for smoking fish.