By Kebba Ansu Manneh
Stakeholders operating in the fisheries sector have disclosed that the lack of regulations to control fish trading in the country is responsible for the high prices of fish in markets. They said many fish traders capitalized on the unregulated fish market to hike prices at their wills without official pronouncements.
Their observations come on the heels of growing concerns among many Gambian families who are increasingly finding it difficult to cope with the sprawling high fish prices at local markets.
Omar Gaye, a Fisherman at Tanje Fish Landing Center revealed that the increase in the pricing of fish at the local markets is mainly due to a lack of regulation in the fish market. He noted that one basket of fish may change hands between three to more retailers called ‘Bana Banas’ who at each stage add their profit on top before it reaches the local markets.
According to him, the Ministry of Fisheries and its department are the major stakeholders that consistently failed in coming up with any tangible regulations that will guide the pricing of fish stocks available at the market. He added that lack of regulation helps the greedy retailers who keep on increasing the price of fish at their will without any care about the livelihoods of ordinary Gambians who badly need fish for their consumption.
“It’s true fishing is getting expensive by the day and becoming more difficult for families to buy for their daily consumption. Due to this increase of the price,” Omar Gaye observed.
He added: “To me, the onus lies on the Ministry and Department of Fisheries they need to step in and come up with regulations that will guide the market price of fish. However, another factor that keeps the prices of fish high is the high cost of fuel in the country that resulted in many Senegalese fishermen returning to Senegal where fuel prices are far cheaper.”
According to him, the unregulated operations of semi-industrial fishing boats also play a great role in sprawling the prices of fish in the local markets, noting that most of the operations of the Semi-Industrial Fishing Vessels occur in the territories depriving artisanal fishermen of getting catches to supply the local markets.
Kaddy Jaiteh, a fish trader at Serrakunda Market blamed the hike of fish prices on middlemen (Bana Banas) who continuously increase the price. As retailers, they have no choice but to sell fish at prices that will afford them little profit to keep their business. “Nowadays, we used to buy a basket of fish for D7000 and added to this you have to buy ice-cube to keep the fish stock fresh, transportation, and duties at the markets. We, retailers, are not to be because you cannot buy a basket of fish for exorbitant prices including all other expenditures, and end up selling it at giveaway prices,” Kaddy Jaiteh explained.
Lamin Sarr, a middleman (Bana Bana) cast the blame on the unregulated fishing sector, noting that the fisheries market is left open where every Dick and Harry can come up with any price tag without interference from the fishery authorities.
According to him, no ‘Bana Bana’ should be blamed for the price hiking in the local markets but for the fishery authorities who failed to regulate the fisheries market. He affirmed that most Senegalese fishermen left due to high fuel prices.