FISHERMEN along Jamaica’s northern coast are benefiting from scores of fish foreign to local waters, as hurricanes Irma and Maria have disrupted the marine life of several Caribbean islands.
Fishermen from the northern parishes of St Ann and St Mary are reporting large catches since the passage of the two category five systems, but said that it is not uncommon for fish to venture into other waters during this time of the year.
“Every year at this time we normally get a run a fish; we always get at least one hurricane at this time. A hurricane normally pass between Haiti, Cuba, Bahamas and Cayman; between the first part of September to the 15th. It’s like a pattern, so we normally gear up for this time of the year,” Rory Bennett told the Jamaica Observer last Wednesday during a stop at White River in St Ann.
According to Bennett, who has been a fisherman for 23 years, residents normally save to purchase from fishermen who, at this time of the year are overwhelmed with the influx.
“The type of fish that we get don’t really live here. Them a stranger to wi water so everybody kinda love look pon di colour and the different types and the taste,” he explained.
Among those that find themselves in warm Jamaican waters are: Grouper, Dolphin Snapper, Yellowtail Snapper, Monger Snapper, Sand Snapper, Angelfish, Grunts, large Doctor fish, and Turbot.
He noted that the normal catch would include Parrot fish, Jack and small Doctor fish.
“A whole variety a fish normally pass through. When we get the hurricane, dem come in abundance. If you full five freezer of it in couple days it gone,” he said.
The men, he added, need to go no further than quarter mile offshore to make their catch.
Fish, he said, venture in and use the reef as habitat until it is safe to move on.
“Dem move in like a pattern. Dem come through the Gulf [of Mexico] and head back through the Windward between Haiti and Cuba go back home. Dem come from off the deep and come pon di shallow,” he told the Sunday Observer.
Kenneth Wilson, another veteran in the business, said that it is imperative and important that the invasive species “migrate” to avoid rough waters and prevent death.
“If where dem coming from is destroyed dem not going back there because dem won’t have anything to feed off. It has a lot to do with how bad their area is affected,” he said.
Steve Anderson corroborated his colleagues’ stories adding that following the passage of Hurricane Irma “a lot” of yellowtail and dolphin snappers along with grouper made their way into the country’s waters.
“Normally when the storm pass through; we get those types of fish, it’s the season right now for them. This time of the year when it catch September [and] October, even next month coming we catch that sort of fish. Even Maria we get off and expect to get more. As an experienced fisherman I can tell you it’s an every year thing,” Anderson shared.
The man, who has been fishing for some 30 years, said fishermen from Negril in Westmoreland to Portland are experiencing the same thing.
“They [fish] travel. They don’t stay one place. Every fishing beach get likkle a what pass through. Wi naah seh wi glad fi di storm enuh ’cause dat a something weh mash up places but wi glad fi di fish dem. Without likkle shaking up gwaan wi can’t get any fish,” he said though admitting that “when the fish dem come in kullo kullo you have less buyers.”
The strategy, he said, is to store the fish on ice until the season “thin out”.
“…A di storm force dem offa dem bank still and force dem to Jamaica,” Anderson reiterated.