ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Local hoteliers and restaurateurs fear that the incursion of Chinese buyers into the lobster market will cause prices to spike nationwide as well as deplete the amount available in the future.
The conversation was spurred on by an interview with hotelier and fisherman Gilbert Gomes, who reported that Chinese businessmen were attempting to corner the lobster market by offering local fisherman increased purchase prices and other incentives for their catches.
He added that the Chinese are enlisting local fisherman in their attempts to consistently fill two 40-ft containers with lobster to export to Guyana.
“They are paying fifty cents a pound more and a lot of the fishermen, almost 90 per cent of them, refuse to sell the locals the lobsters … and give them to the Chinese. Night and day, when the boats come in the Chinese jump on the boat and they only want to give us what the Chinese men refuse,” said Gomes on the Big Issues yesterday.
According to Gomes, this will result in the local businesses receiving lobster at increased prices or deterioration in the quality of the crustaceans available to the local market.
He also expressed concern that the overfishing of lobster in the waters of Antigua & Barbuda could result in the rapid depletion of the resource.
However, Gomes saved most of his rancour for local fisherman, saying, “As far as I know, we have the worst fishermen on earth. They don’t consider nothing but bribe and money,” he chided, when referring to their willingness to sell to the Chinese.