While the majority of the local business community has generally reported a decline in sales and business since COVID-19, fisherfolk from Anegada are reporting an increased demand for freshly-caught seafood.
BVI News spoke to two veteran fishermen about the current state of the sector.
“Business is very good, very good. The people are very supportive. Everybody likes Anegada fish and stuff,” Keith ‘Dr Daniel’ Smith told BVI News as he sold fish near the Road Town Ferry terminal on Thursday morning.
He said he has been in this industry for more than two decades and has faithfully travelled to Tortola to conduct business since that time.
But it hasn’t been till recent months that the fisherman has seen an expanded market base.
“I have been selling in all restaurants for the last 21 years. I just had one cooler for the restaurants, but since the coronavirus, a lot of people buy and are very supportive. Sometimes I go six and seven coolers [of fish],” he added.
When BVI News centre caught up to him on Thursday, Smith had four coolers of various types of fish. He estimated the coolers would have been empty within a three-hour timeframe.
In the meantime, another fisherman, Liston Potter, who owns of Potters by the Sea on Anegada is also reporting that business has been good despite the pandemic.
He started fishing at the young age of 13 as his father was also a fisherman.
“It is a customary thing for us Anegadians taking our fish, conchs, whelks, lobsters, you name it, over to Tortola and selling them,” he said.
When asked if there has been an increased demand since the coronavirus, he replied: “I would say, ‘yes’. [It has increased about a quarter, or a little bit more because people get tired of eating the same old thing and there is nothing like Anegada fresh fish and conchs and lobsters.”
Despite his business’ latest successes, Potter said there are a few challenges local fisherfolk face.
The businessman wants government to recreate a location where fishermen like himself can go to sell their produce.
He said: “By the time you get to Tortola, the turnaround time to get the ferry is short. So that is a little bit of a problem. You have to be a bit rushy. I wish the government would look at something quick and try to reopen the Fisheries [outlet], which would be a great help to us. [It’s] where we could have a landing site rather than being on the street selling fish. It looks kind of tacky that way, you know?”
He continued: “Sometimes you have to hold back, not knowing if you are going to get it sell. Time is our problem. Sometimes the ferry is late, when you get here its 10 am by the time you set up, by the time you look, it’s almost time to come back to Anegada.”
Potter said the ferry leaves Tortola bound for Anegada any time after 3 pm.
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