Paul Maillis, the National Fisheries Association’s (NFA) secretary, told Tribune Business that fishermen who invested heavily in their vessels and operations in expectation that last year’s prices “of upwards of $20 per pound” will be maintained are especially vulnerable to the drop-off.
Disclosing that seafood processors are paying fishermen as little as $10 per pound for lobster in some parts of The Bahamas, he attributed the “suppressed prices” to increased supply as rival sources such as South Africa ramp up production back to pre-pandemic levels with the lifting of COVID restrictions.
While catch volumes have held at 2021 levels, Mr Maillis told this newspaper that Family Island communities were being especially hard hit by the price fall-off. Besides having fewer sales outlets outside of processors and exporters, they are also feeling the general squeeze from inflation and cost pressures far more than New Providence.
With “the price of everything going up” bar lobster, he added that some fishermen are now struggling to “pay their bills” and still hoping that the Government can provide some relief on fuel costs – possibly by diversifying supply sources if the US eases sanctions on Venezuela and allows the South American country to resume production in earnest once again.
With one alternative income source cut-off for Bahamian fishermen yesterday through the end of Nassau grouper season, Mr Maillis said fears of an economic recession in major consumer markets such as the US, coupled with China’s ‘zero COVID’ policy, could mean relatively low lobster prices persist for some time to come.