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Annotto Bay fishing village gasping for life

Published:Saturday | April 7, 2012 | 12:00 AM
This portugee fish writhes as it struggles to stay alive. Its predicament is similar to that faced by the fishermen in Annotto Bay, St Mary. - photo by Paul Williams

ANNOTTO BAY, St Mary:IT IS FRIDAY, MARCH 30, mid-morning at Annotto Bay, St Mary. A dinner-size 'portugee' fish fluttered and squirmed on the grass near the sea. Moribund, it was searching for water, and motionless at times, with eyes wide open, it seemed to be begging for mercy.

It was one of the few fish that Trevor Bagnold had just brought in, but unbeknown to it, the decades-old fishing village in which it had found itself was in a similar situation, on the brink of death, and crying out for help.

When Rural Express arrived earlier, there were no activities in the village, no buyers huddling around boats, no fish scaling, no net patching, no preparation for sea, and no fish-pot making. About three bundles of wattles used to make pots rested against an almond tree. A few boats lied idly in one spot, but their owners were nowhere in sight.

What came into view was a bright yellow, engine-propelled canoe occupied by two men, one quite elderly. And suddenly, several people from various directions were descending upon the spot where the boat was heading. Perfect timing? Or did they know something I didn't? But my timing wasn't so bad either. It turned out that the captain of the canoe, Trevor Bagnold, was the man to talk with. He is a vice-president of the fishing cooperative.