Fish vendors challenged by declining customers
Fish vendors in Apia and neighbouring areas are facing thousands of tala in losses due to declining customer demand in recent weeks leading to some abandoning the trade.
There have been reports in recent weeks of fish prices dropping at the local fish markets due to the lack of customers. On Monday the Samoa Observer visited the Savalalo fish market in Apia and came across two sellers who expressed concern at the sluggish sales and indicated that they are considering other options to sell.
Levetti Taula, the proprietor of a fish business in Siumu, said that the market demand for fish has been very poor in recent weeks when compared to previous months when they had a lot of business and saw an increase in fish sales.
She said that although they also transport fish to different parts of Apia as well as villages to sell, they are getting the same result, where only one or two fish are sold per day and the returns are not good when fuel cost is so high.
“It has been four weeks since we experienced this decline in fish sales, which is primarily due to a lack of customers,” said Ms. Taula. "But before we had this problem, we used to market our fish to earn SAT$2000 or more a day because we had so many local and international customers.
"Previously, we would use our car to sell fish to neighbourhoods, but we have observed that we are experiencing the same decline in customers just like at the market. Our sales are declining, yet the cost of fuel is too high so it is a waste of time.”
Ms. Taula blamed the drop in fish customers on what she claimed were declining tourist numbers arriving in Samoa from abroad.
"Moreover, we haven't had a lot of tourists in Samoa these past few months, which I think is one of the reasons why our fish sales have decreased.”
Another local fish vendor, Faranisisi Mautofu Satuala confirmed the drop in demand for fish from customers and urged market authorities to reduce the fees that they charge each vendor for using the facility to sell.
"We are paying SAT$10 for our fish block even though we are having trouble selling fish. I believe the market owner should assist in lowering the price until our sales resume,” said Mr. Satuala.
According to the fish vendor, the drop in local demand for fish products has also led to other fish sellers abandoning the trade.
"The shortage of customers has also led to a decreased number of fish vendors in the market as you can witness," he said.
However, despite their current challenges with a sluggish market, the fish vendors are confident that their fortunes will change when the festive season comes around with more Samoans living abroad returning home for holidays.
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