Fish traders at the Feri International Fish Market in Dar es Salaam have complained about the difficulty in obtaining fish products, expressing dismay at the high prices even for the limited quantities available.

As of today, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, prices at the market have surged significantly. A bucket of small fish, equivalent to a large 20-kilogram bucket, has risen from 5,000 Tanzanian Shillings to 60,000 Tanzanian Shillings, while a basket of small fish has increased from 20,000 Tanzanian Shillings to 80,000 Tanzanian Shillings.

While traders lament these challenges, the Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA) forecasted yesterday, Monday, May 20, 2024, that the storm “Ialy” expected to hit the Indian Ocean coast was diminishing in strength and would dissipate by tomorrow night, Wednesday, May 22, 2024.

Renowned fisherman at the market, Bakari Salum ‘Chepe,’ noted that since the adverse weather conditions were announced, fish availability had decreased significantly due to many boats not venturing out to sea.

“Many fear the strong winds, and with fewer boats going out to sea, those that do incur high fuel costs, resulting in losses. Only a few venture out to sea due to the hardships, but to provide for their families, they must brave the waters, albeit catching only a small quantity of fish. Consequently, they sell at higher prices to cover expenses,” he explained.

He further added that on calm days, they could earn up to 50,000 Tanzanian Shillings per day, but when the sea was rough, he suspended fishing temporarily for safety reasons.

A fish trader from Kitunda, Sarafina Nasri, expressed her struggles in sourcing fish at the market since morning. Even the small quantities brought in from the sea were sold at exorbitant prices.

“You know, on regular days, when fish are abundant, we would buy a bucket of fish for 5,000 to 4,000 Tanzanian Shillings. But since the day before yesterday, the prices have soared, especially today, where we are being charged 50,000 Tanzanian Shillings per bucket. I couldn’t afford to buy enough for my budget,” she lamented.

This sentiment was echoed by Oda Komba, a small fish trader from Kimara Korogwe, who highlighted the significant price hike, making it harder to sustain their livelihoods.

“A bucket of small fish used to cost us between 15,000 to 20,000 Tanzanian Shillings, but now, as you can see, even if you ask here, it’s 80,000 Tanzanian Shillings. Can we really live and educate our families under these circumstances? The situation is dire,” she emphasized.

Said Ramadhani, another fish trader at the market, noted how the windy conditions had impacted their operations, forcing them to sell fish at higher prices to offset losses.

“This morning, I bought small fish from fishermen for a high price, at 20,000 Tanzanian Shillings per bucket. Now, I must sell at a higher price to cover my losses. Besides, there’s no other place for buyers to go; they’ll have to come here eventually,” he reasoned.

The Chairman of the Feri Market, Mbaraka Kilima, assured that fish prices would gradually decrease as the sea calmed down, and more fishermen ventured out to sea to fish.

“Fishing activities depend on favorable weather conditions; when it’s turbulent, many fishermen refrain from going out to sea as they risk their lives,” he explained.

The observation by Maisha Press Syndicate noted that boats ferrying passengers from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar continued their operations according to schedule, with supervisors stating that the sea conditions were not severe enough to warrant a suspension of services.