Keith Michaels, a Belhar resident, has been selling fish for the last 25 years and said his business has been struggling for the last two years.
“The less fish there is, the more you will pay for the fish. In the fishing industry, there’s only work for us four to six months of the year. That’s six months if we’re lucky,” he said.
During holiday periods like Easter they don’t only compete with big companies but people who are not fishers trying to make quick money.
He added: “What makes it quite hectic for us is that sometimes people selling fish around Easter that take business from us as small-scale fishers.”
“They are already getting a salary every month but are greedy for more money. People wonder why fish become so expensive but it’s because of people like that.”
Over the last five years, Michaels said the industry has steadily declined.
“This year you can expect to pay between R200 to R350 for fresh fish. For hake and yellowtail you can expect to pay R90 to R100 per kg,” he said.
As fish is a seasonal product, the price will vary depending on its scarcity, Michaels said.
“When it’s up and running with a steady supply then it’s not as expensive but as with any product, scarcity will increase the price,” he said.
Michaels started selling fish with his late friend Elton Markus and said he had Markus and Markus's dad, James Brown, to thank for imparting their knowledge to him.
“At the time we would see our money but work has deteriorated over the years. I even went to do taxi driving for a few years which should indicate how bad it is,” he said.
He added: “There is little stability in this industry that I worked as a taxi driver for almost six years.”
Michaels said he wished that the government cared better for small scale fishers.
“There is no medical aid or retirement package for small scale fishers. We work in water and so many of our colleagues end up with Arthritis but there’s no involvement from their side asking how they can help us,” he said.
He added: “At the end of the day, we are offering a service to the public. This is why people who don’t work in our industry can easily sell fish because there’s little to no regulation for it.”
“We struggle so much and we have to provide for our families. I wish they’d care for us as they do for the taxis. When we have no work, there’s no help.”