Hellshire fishermen hit hard as COVID-19 stalls sales

Hellshire fishermen hit hard as COVID-19 stalls sales

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 10, 2020

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FOR fishermen at Hellshire Fishing Beach in St Catherine, the Easter period is one of their best in terms of earnings as Jamaicans look forward to having fish at this time of year.

But this year the onset of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has stalled business for these fishermen as people have been staying away from the popular venue, where restrictions have been placed on all recreational activities, including dining in the many restaurants which are on the beach.

To compound matters, the management of the facility has decided that it should be shuttered completely over the Easter weekend to keep out the thousands of people who usually head there every public holiday.

“It really bad now because since this virus thing start nobody nah buy no fish. Things slow up, slow up, bad, bad, bad,” boat owner and fisherman George Smith told the Jamaica Observer as he relaxed on the beach Wednesday.

“...[Normally on] the Easter weekend the amount of people who would come to buy fish and we wouldn't have hands to sell,” he said, noting that only a few people were visiting the location to buy fish.

“We a struggle to survive. Mi buy gas fi mi boat from last week and it just put down because the boat nah go sea. And even when we go sea we nah catch nothing because it look like all the fish dem fraid of the virus,” added Smith, with a chuckle.

Winsome Madden, who operates a shop on the Hellshire Beach, shared the concern of the fishermen, including her child's father.

“A 'sufferation' now and we a suffer. We want to know what the Government a do fi we,” said Madden.

“Now in the Easter we would sell fish but them say the beach have to close down. We just have to stand and look. Nothing nah gwaan. We just have to stand and look. I don't know what the Government can do fi we as some flat foot hustlers but them need to do something,” added Madden.

She said that no one who makes a living on the beach has escaped the fallout. Among them is “Joseph” who has been a feature on the Hellshire Beach selling craft items for years.

“I am not surviving based on how the people have drifted away. Some days I don't earn anything. In the period of four days I don't earn $3,000 and I have to spend it back on food and I still have to help another man by giving away a one or two hundred dollars,” said Joseph as he declared that he will not be able to survive without an earning for much longer.

“I am a sickly man, too, trouble with asthma, so I am trying my best to see what I can do to survive. I am just waiting to see what the bigger man can do to help me,” added Joseph.


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