From the news desk

Consumers bemoan price of fish

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Capetonians looking forward to sinking their teeth in pickled fish this Easter weekend will be left startled by the price of fish. VOC News went out to the bustling fish trucks on Viking Way in Goodwood this week, only to find the price of snoek at a whopping R200. During the Easter period, the price of fish usually increases significantly and those who sell fish are said to make an increased profit during this time.

“Its ridiculous…how can poor people afford those prices. Its just crazy…” said Thornton resident Beverly September.

“Fish is something Christians need to have for Easter. Its a staple. Most people will have to skip on it this year,” said Dale Arendse.

“I was very shocked to see the prices of snoek. But we like our pickled fish when we go camping. So we going to have to pay for it,” added Naseema Khan.

Pedro Garcia, chairperson and founder of the South African United Fishing Fund says that it is not the fishermen that are responsible for the high prices; but rather the chain of supply and demand. Added to that, there has been a huge scarcity of fish and especially snoek.

“Due to the scarcity of the fish over the last couple of month’s prices have gone off the boats. That means that prices are directly from the vessels so the price is R140-R180 because people come in with 10 or 20 snoek at a time. Then it gets sold on the roadside for R200,” Garcia explained.

“So a R400 mark-up is off base and I think there is a misunderstanding of what is happening in the fishing industry.”

Garcia says due to supply and demand, the price fluctuates.

“Also the fact that there are no holding facilities available to the fishermen which is something that has been promised for a long time,” Garcia continued.

“When there is an abundance of fish then the prices usually drop considerably and that is because they do not have the holding facilities to sell that fish at a later point.”

“So we haven’t been able to stabilise the markets due to the absence of the required facilities to hold the fish,” Garcia went further.

Overfishing, an increase in illegal fishing and global warming are other important factor in terms of the scarcity of the fish.

“However, I think more importantly in the Western Cape the one source of protein for our people is now essentially out of reach and one has to look at the core issues.

The real issues now is the allocation processes in South Africa and most of the resources are in the hands of a few big companies then certainly you are going to sit with major issues,” he added.

“So the large companies with big trawlers catch all the small fish that the snoek depend upon. Furthermore, snoek are nomadic and thus will no longer come nearer to the shore line because the fish that it feeds on have been swept further into the ocean.” VOC

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