(ERGO) – Fishermen in the northern Somali town of Bosaso are complaining that the lack of cold storage facilities is threatening their livelihood and preventing them from earning a decent living.
Towfiq Ali Artan, a father of four, is among the 260 local fishermen who say they have to give away or throw away most of the fish they catch.
“We have to sell the fish at lower than the costs we incur. Instead of dumping them we give them to women who hawk in the market. Our main issue is that we don’t have freezers to keep the fish,” he told Radio Ergo.
Towfiq and his four business partners catch up to 200 kgs of fish during a trip of one week out at sea. However, almost half the catch rots on the boat before they return to shore. Additionally, the rise in fuel prices means they spend $210 to fill their 80-litre boat engine, so their income has fallen from $60-70 to just $10-20 a week.
They have scaled down to fishing for only two weeks a month instead of four.
“If we had freezers, we would sell fish at the normal price in the city or send it to Garowe and Galkayo. It’s vital to have cold storage facilities. In Berbera, a kilo of fish sells at $1.50 and here it is just 80 cents,” he said.
Towfiq, who has been a fisherman for seven years, had a freezer that broke down last year. He is taking loans from food stores and has cut down from three family meals to just one a day. He has not paid the $80 for his two daughters’ and two sons’ school fees for two months.
Veteran fisherman since 2009, Ali Warsame, has seen his previous $40 a week earnings dwindling to $30 a month in the past six months. He can no longer to pay for the hire of a boat. Ali is also taking food on credit to feed his family of three children.
“Sometimes you can catch fish and find no buyers, so we try to reach out to people who have freezers to store the fish. We give them to some Yemeni fishermen to store for us, but they charge us $50,” he said.
The chairman of the local fishermen’s cooperative in Bosaso, Mustafe Abshir Mohamed, said they are unable to profit from the current seasonal glut of fish due to the lack of cold storage facilities. He said they requested help from the Puntland government last year, but nothing has yet been done to address their concerns.
He also noted that the ongoing expansion of Bosaso port has affected them, pushing them away from the shore where their boats were moored.
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