Palolo sellers defend their prices

Palolo sellers have defended the prices that they are charging, saying it is hard work catching Samoa's favourite seafood delicacy.

It was busy at Apia's fish market as villagers brought in their palolo to sell, some going to the market at the break of dawn.

A number of the sellers were from Savai'i and had travelled to the Savalalo fish market to sell the sea worms delicacy in bundles or in small containers, thereby giving their customers options.

Paese Tavita, 53, was at the fish market on Wednesday morning with his wife Fulusia Paese, 43, to sell their catch. 

The couple, who are from Vaisigano but went to Samauga village in Savai'i to collect palolo, said this is their third year selling the seasonal delicacy at the fish market and they've noticed that prices have actually dropped. 

“We have been selling palolo for two years and now this is our third, I have noticed the changes of the price of palolo has dropped,” Mr. Tavita said. 

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He said the price of the delicacy was high during the last two years as a small container went for $400 tala and a bundle sold for over $50 tala. But this year palolo in small containers had dropped to $300 tala each. 

For 19-year-old John Iosefa, he had 14 bundles of palolo going for $50 tala, though he previously charged $70 tala for a bundle as he said his bundles were big.

“I have to go back home to Savai'i, I am catching the last ferry that is why I dropped the price from $70 to $50 tala.” 

Discussing the high prices that palolo sellers charge, Mr. Iosefa said it is hard work catching palolo as they have to go to the reef and search among the coral rocks.

“This is my first time coming to sell palolo and selling palolo will help out the family back in Savai'i,” he added.

Mr. Tavita agreed with the sentiments expressed by Mr. Iosefa, saying the waters around the reef can be deep and there are waves, which can make it difficult for them. 

He said due to him and his wife being involved in the practice the last three consecutive years, they now have experience catching the sea worms and selling them, and have small containers full of palolo they caught at Samauga village. 

When queried about their prices, Mr. Tavita said they are selling each of the palolo containers for $300 tala each, but if they sold them in bundles they will have much more. 

“People come to buy palolo and ask for the price and then they complain about how expensive the cost of a small container is, but they should know that catching it is not easy,” he said.

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