‘We not boycotting…, we just not taking part’ – Clouden
by Lyf Compton
Fisherman’s Day activities will this year take place in two locations, at the fisheries compound and playing field in Calliaqua and at the Kingstown Fish Market.
However, the Kingstown event is the official event, sanctioned by the Ministry of Fisheries, while the Calliaqua event is a private fish fest event.
The rift comes as the National Fisherman’s Day Committee has this year decided to move the national fishing event to Kingstown after complaints by some fisherfolk who operate out of the Kingstown locale.
Complaints range from cleanliness and space constraints to the inadequacy of the berthing facilities at Calliaqua.
Because of the venue change, about 30 fishermen from Calliaqua have decided to boycott the national event and participate in their own fish fest which will see them being given incentives for their catches. Their event will also see five fishermen being honoured.
On Wednesday, Raoul Lewis, the chairman of this year’s Fisherman’s Day Committee told SEARCHLIGHT that over the last 10 years, the activities have been held in Calliaqua, but now the fisherfolk from Kingstown and even some fishermen who operate from Calliaqua have asked that the event be held in Kingstown for numerous reasons.
“One of the main reason being that on Fisherman Day, 75 per cent of the fish that comes in goes to Kingstown because the space out here is not enough to sell or store the fish caught,” explained Lewis, who added that only five stalls, and a wharf that can accommodate two boats are available in Calliaqua, while there are 30 stalls and a 12 boat berthing capacity in Kingstown.
“Some of the guys here (Calliaqua) are for their personal reason why they want to have it out here. Some of them would be running a bar or something,” said Lewis who added that he is not saying Kingstown is better overall, but things have to be balanced.
He said he does not think the non-participation of some of the fisherfolk from Calliaqua will negatively impact the national event, as he knows that some of the men from Calliaqua will take part in the national event for a chance to win EC$10,000.
Dean Clouden, one of the persons involved in next Monday’s Calliaqua fish fest said the authorities took the decision to move the event to Kingstown and it is not sitting well with fishers from East St George. He said the decision was made at the final planning meeting which was held on Tuesday in Kingstown.
“As far as I am concerned, Fisherman’s Day is a brainchild of East St George. It was started in East St George at Canash and was built over the years.
“Their argument is that it has outgrown Calliaqua, but we don’t think so because it is our thing. So, we have decided we will have our own event on Fisherman’s Day,” said Clouden.
He added that the prizes are not going to be as big as the national event, but there will be incentives for the fishermen, and they have the support of 30 boats registered in Calliaqua.
“We are inviting persons to come and set up all your food stalls and we have no restrictions where you come from, you can come from anywhere in SVG.
“We will be giving a cash prize to the person who has the best tasting fish dish, but you can sell anything. There will be bouncing castle, face painting, performances by Luta, Shaunelle Mckenzie, Hance John and Fireman and DJ performances,” said Clouden.
“We not boycotting the national event, we just not taking part,” noted Clouden who also said the fisherman from Calliaqua do not think they stand a chance of winning in the national competition because fisherman from other areas have been pooling their catches into one and the fisheries authorities have not been able to address that.
“…And that is one issue why they are upset,” said Clouden who added that their activities at Calliaqua begin at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 10.
Lennox Ashton, Asquith Haynes, Timothy Murphy and Jamal “Rasta” Barzie, all who operate from Calliaqua, prefer the Calliaqua venue. Ashton said that his small 15-horsepower vessel cannot easily navigate to take his catch to Kingstown, while Haynes and Murphy say while Calliaqua has been criticized as being dirty, in their opinion, Kingstown is no better. Murphy said the disrespect shown to Calliaqua is “extraordinary”.
Barzie also puts his fate in the facilities at Calliaqua. He noted that there, one can clean, and roast fish or cook fish for sale.
“In town we can’t do that, so out here is the better place. They might say we want to burn down town,” said Barzie.
Commenting, Kingstown based fisherman Hugh Sutherland said the activities should be in Kingstown.
“Kingstown is the better place because all the better facilities are in Kingstown. Rain come in Calliaqua, no shelter,” said Sutherland, who noted that they do not have a problem rotating the event, but to carry it to Calliaqua every year is political and dictatorial.
Stanley Marshall agrees with Sutherland.
“What about if they say is Owia to have Fisherman’s Day? What would they say they ain’t participating? All ah we is one. So, what happen to the town man who fishing? Is Calliaqua alone fishing?” You come in town one time and you object? What happen to all the time it been out there?” questioned Marshall.
Another Kingstown fisherman, Michael Cupid noted that the majority of fisherman are located between Kingstown and Leeward so it better to have the event in Kingstown.
Camillo Gonsalves, the area representative for East St George, which includes Calliaqua told SEARCHLIGHT that the idea behind the Calliaqua fish fest is not to compete with the Fisherman’s Day activities, but to complement them.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Saboto Caesar could not be reached for comment.