Fish Market trouble resolved, Hew tells House

| 11/12/2020 | 75 Comments
Cayman News Service
Fish Market at Red Spot Bay

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government and the landowner of Red Spot Bay, George Town, have come to an agreement over the Fish Market row, according to Commerce Minister Joey Hew. He told parliament Thursday night that Chris Johnson had offered to place the site where fishermen and their agents have traditionally sold their catch at the harbour front in a trust. Johnson wanted the market moved so he could create a beach park, but he has agreed the fishermen can stay if they shift to the southern corner of the parcel.

The minister revealed the news of the agreement during a debate on a private member’s motion brought by Opposition Leader Arden McLean. The motion asked government to either enforce the prescriptive rights or acquire the land through compulsory purchase because of its cultural significance, which has been articulated in recent weeks as the row escalated.

McLean accepted that such a “big stick” is a last resort, as such action always stirs up concerns, given that property ownership remains fundamental to society here. But he said there were times when government has to do what is necessary to preserve valuable cultural sites. He said it was important to preserve this fish market, especially as the site is not suitable for any kind of development.

Red Spot Bay is a long standing historic site where fish has been sold for well over 50 years. The row about the fishermen and their agents using a small part of it at the water’s edge blew up after the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

During lockdown the market was temporarily moved to the south cruise terminal to enable social distancing and preventative measures against the coronavirus to protect the men and shoppers. Once the lockdown was over, the fishermen sought to move back as the cove is well known to customers, given how long it has been there.

But with long-held plans to beautify Red Spot Bay and turn it into a public beach access point, Johnson, who has owned the land for some forty years, said they could not come back. This stirred up a significant local row, not just because the livelihood of the fishermen and their agents was put at risk but also because of the broader challenge to prescriptive access rights and Caymanian culture and heritage.

When the fishermen returned, Johnson filed a legal action to evict them, adding fuel to the fire.

However, since then Johnson, who has said previously he does not want to sell the land to government, confirmed that he proposed this solution to the CIG. This will see Red Spot Bay placed in a trust and the fishermen can stay so long as they move to the corner at the other side of the cove. No other commercial activity will be allowed there, paving the way for Johnson’s vision of a perpetually protected beach spot in George Town

As he responded to McLean on Thursday evening, Hew said that the CIG and Johnson had not yet formally completed the deal but had entered into a good faith agreement. He explained that government had held several meetings with Johnson to try and resolve the conflict and address his concerns.

The minister said the arrangement had been welcomed by the vendors and the Thompson family, who own the land on the border of where the fish market will now go. Government has agreed to develop a new facility for them at the site, with parking and bathrooms across the street, and it will come under the George Town revitalization project. He said there would also be a code of conduct introduced there, and that it presented the opportunity for an organised restart and to develop a proper market.

“We have negotiated a solution. We have entered into an agreement in good faith with the property owner and we have a solution that is satisfactory to all parties involved,” he said, as he indicated that government would not be accepting McLean’s motion.

See the parliament proceedings on CIGTV below:

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Comments (75)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    And this is why I cannot support Arden for Premier. Of all the issues facing this country he brings a motion that might benefit a small group of “fishermen” who purchase their catch from Honduran boats. Why? Because it might get some people to get upset at Joey Hew. Politricks pure and simple at a time when we need our representatives to work together.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why did this become a major issue for Mr. Hew? He has allowed the public beach to become an unregulated bazar which is embarrasses Caymanians every time I go there. And the lies he told about the Smith’s Cove project demonstrated his competence and character. Show us all the details on all the details instead of operating in secret before you are voted out next election. I will never waste a vote on him again

  3. Anonymous says:

    Pathetic that this is even discussed in parliament. There is nothing cultural about men going and buying old stale fish fr9m Honduran boats and selling it on private land with no trading license and no health and safety protocols. Remove them and regenerate the eyesore that is gt waterfront ASAP. Culture? What a joke,,,how about the government start spending time on real issues like the dump, crime, and the appalling level of terrible service from caymanians in all government departments.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nothing cultural about fishermen and seafarers?

      That is a huge slap in the faces of: the Seafarers Association, the now elderly seamen, and our forefathers who have passed on who went to sea for years at a time. They were away from their wives and families who also bore all the struggles of their departure, in order to bring back money and resources. These very seamen were some of the main breadwinners that built the foundation of Cayman’s “world-class” financial center status that everyone worldwide comes here to get their exorbitantly-large share of and often wrongfully take credit for. All of our acquired wealth wasn’t founded on dumb luck, as many freeloading individuals like to make it out to be. (Our coat of arms didn’t come out of thin air either)

      Also, if there isn’t any cultural significance, why are they being formally recognized on National Heroes’ Day next month?

      Boy… your cockup half-cut comments. Ignorance can’t hide and being tone-deaf leaves bad tastes in everyone’s mouth. If you don’t like it, Owen Roberts is now open; feel free to board any flight TravelCayman can get you on. Flimflam freeloaders are no longer welcome. (You can’t run us down but also take our big fat checks, it doesn’t work like that in the modern world buddy)

      • Anonymous says:

        There’s a big difference between these fishermen/salesmen occupying and trashing the site vs. seafarers / boat builders and the history and culture that came with that all along North Church Street. There’s a big difference. These fishermen and the undesirables that occupy the site are not part of that.

        • Hancock says:

          They are not fishermen they are fishmongers who have no trade and business licence. There presence and the smokers and riffraff precludes all others from enjoying the facility.

      • Anonymous says:

        5:30am, remind us all how “these very seamen” built the foundation of our financial services industry. Which of their skills did they bring to bear in setting up the accounting and legal framework underpinning this major part of our economy? Which of them drafted the necessary laws?

        • Anonymous says:

          8:04 pm. Another insulting comment, based on your ignorance of the development and success of Cayman’s economy I won’t even try to enlighten you.

    • Anonymous says:

      If that fish isn’t freshly caught, I’m not buying it anymore. The fish in the supermarket/s is a good quality and already filleted .

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m trusting their trade and business license is up to date

    • Anonymous says:

      No they do not have one !

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks to Hon. McLean for bringing the motion, and for his comment about doing what is necessary to protect valuable cultural sites. Our most valuable and beautiful cultural site and sight is our beach which is becoming less and less accessible to us. I am anxious to see the newest version of that flawed legislation that was supposed to protect our beach accesses. I depend on the Minister for Lands and Hon. McLean to see that it is right this time.

      • Anonymous says:

        Arden is playing politics. He better worry about the fishermen in East End. He completely ignored the fact that the land belongs to a private individual. Would you want the Government telling you what you cant do with your private land? or that you must tolerate people sitting around drinking, urinating, and cussing on the land, while they sell chemically treated, stinky spoiled fish?

      • Anonymous says:

        The fishermen are also occupying the hammerheads / cabana site, they sit there every day on a bench and use the shoreline. Perhaps Mclean and government should force the landowner of hammerheads (Selkirk) to give their land over to the fishermen. Prescriptive rights!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Joey must be worried buying up half a dozen votes.
    Had this been three years ago wondered if he would have acted on such a minor issue.
    Get your backside now down to Fin and sort out all the breaches

  6. SSM345 says:

    “Code of Conduct” to be introduced was the most interesting part of this article; trust me.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Fish market should be down Marbel Drive

  8. Anonymous says:

    ‘Johnson wanted the market moved so he could create a beach park’…. A what? I used to cringe with embarrassment when I saw that piece of land passed off to unsuspecting cruisers as a beach. Con job to end all con jobs. Rubbish lying about, rocks and stones dumped there, a reek of fish to accompany your dip into tarpon infested waters. Anything for dollar I suppose. Balboa Beach? It was a Rocky Balboa Beach!

    • Anonymous says:

      Johnson is not developing the property. He is cleaning it up, just restoring it to its natural state. People can do whatever they want to do on the beach, it’ll just be a clean beach for public use.

      • Anonymous says:

        When Johnson tries to improve the beach for swimming he is hamstrung by the illegal poured concrete and raw bar keeping the tents in the concrete. Any lawsuit he will be liable. Cannot people understand that? Kudos to the man that built the sidewalk and related the crumbling sea wall. All he wants to do is to improve beach access which gets smaller each day.

        Meanwhile the politicians use this as a campaign on behalf of three guys selling questionable fish with no trades and business licence. Moreover it is not approved by the health authorities. That is the real reason why government moved them to the south terminal.

        Thus the fishmongers are in breach of numerous laws. Will enforcement intervene? No chance.

        Talk to local restaurants and they will tell you why they do not buy fish from these guys.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tarpon na ga bite you but the fact that you think they will told me more about yourself than I needed to know to digest this comment.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      May I have some respect people. Kindly refer to me as Chris, Mr Chris or Mr Johnson. That is all I ask as I try to resolve this issue and work with Mr Hew which will benefit everyone involved.

  9. Concerned says:

    OMG. This underlines why these islands are a third world place – note I didn’t say Country because it isn’t –

    Despite having a huge GDP – earned by expats – this kind of thing reaching ‘Parliament’ shows just how lame the legislators are here. They are ripping the ass out of the Caymanian public, paying themselves RIDICULOUS salaries to preside over a fish market that probably breaches every health and safety issue and is actually about as cultural as snot.

    This marks out the self interest of ‘MPs’ who are approaching election season.

    What an absolute joke. The fish market, like most of George Town front, is an eyesore. I don’t see much ‘culture’ in the concrete facade.

    • Unsurprised says:

      The willingness of politicians to intercede on behalf of tiny special interest groups is indeed curious. Especially when these same politicians will studiously ignore major issues that impact the whole community. Dump, education, crime. The list is long. I think it comes down to a fear of saying no to anyone showing a bit of aggression. They don’t want people like that raising a ruckus. Throw a little money at it, put up a cabana and hope it all goes away. It is the very essence of politics.

    • Anonymous says:

      No he should not. Too much time on your hands to think of so much stupidity?

    • ACaymanian says:

      Well it’s obvious that you cannot understand the symbolic nature of Red Spot you were not born here. It is over 60 years way over that the place you so seemingly detest has existed. Many of us have seen this place as a place where old and young congregated in the day to watch the fishermen come in, ( someone had blown a conch shell announcing their arrival) and for them to clean and sell the fresh catch of the day, two pence a pound at one time. In the evenings just before the sunset older men congregated here and at Hog sty bay and talked about events of the day, people who just arrived from abroad, their own families exchanged ideas and in an orderly fashion went home at around 9:00 pm every night. This was all before the advent of Mr. Berkley Bush’s theathercwhich saw a lot more people out in that area at night as children attended the movies.

      Over the years this culture changed as there was more economic activity tourism, then banks and today a myriad of financial services and yes 140 nationalities with people such as 3:35 arriving from where we don’t know but who resoundingly believes that our traditional cultural elements should be abandoned or are really insignificant and we should cater to his and or her brand of thinking as they traverse our land where our forefathers worked for cared for , struggled for as their homeland, notice I did not say country.

      So sir/ madam take your sanctimonious opinion and shove it as far or even further than where the sun doesn’t shine.

      • Anonymous says:

        For real Caymanian. So what if our MPs want to talk about a fish market. Notice some MPs are fighting over fishing rights right now. Funny they gave away a big country like the UK’s independence and are struggling to take it back and so we are lucky we have such little problem. Seems like we have the little problems cause we control the big one.. Hm Hm Hm. Covid… How you like them apples!

      • Concerned says:

        60 years is a dot in history. Ig is absolutely not culture The culture tag was put on it yo establish an argument for people who are effectively trespassing on someone else’s land. So lef’s set up a fish market in your yard and see how you react. The point I make relates to so called politians with nothing better to do than waste time discussing a dot of a problem when there is a dump, poor education, rabid inequality and crime to resolve. But hey, these mupoets represent you in both a physical and material way and if you’re happy with them it again shows the small minds at the yop of this village.

        • Anonymous says:

          Listen up 1:52, I was not speaking of what parliament does or dies not,. Was expressing what Red Spot means to many Caymanians.

          So you too arse wipe can haul ya carcass out of here. Efore

        • Anonymous says:

          1:52 pm I would not like it if someone set up a fish market in my yard – and I would not have bought a yard with a fish market already in it.

    • steve says:

      What a silly response. If you hate our “Island Country” why not piss off and leave. Jerk! George Town has plenty of character on the waterfront, in my opinion.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The devil is in the details. Joey Hew and this government cannot be trusted. Show us the details of this agreement and all the development agreements and deals he has negotiated and signed as Minister of Planning Infrastructure & Commerce

  11. Anonymous says:

    Is it REALLY fishing when all you do is take your boat to the nearest Honduran boat and buy fish from them???

    • Anonymous says:

      And then sit and drink for the rest of the day!

    • Rochelle M. A Caymanian. says:

      I would hope you all would make enquires about the fishing boats before you all make stupid remarks and “ass”umptions about things you don’t know as fact. So let me enlighten you all.
      1. The fishing boats are all owned by CAYMANIAN owners, some of the employees on those boats are caymanians. yes there are Honduran National fishermen on those boats who go out to sea to fish.
      2. they do not bring frozen fish from Honduras. The fisherman on these boats go to mysteriosa bank, 60 mile bank and deep sea. Frozen fish is brought in by air idiots, through our local wholesalers such as Progressive etc to undercut our local fishermen prices.
      3. the reason they have Honduran Nationals as fishermen on most of these boats is because we no longer have enough young Caymanians who are interested in going on Long hauls out to sea fishing (10-14 days a stretch) because we have lost unfortunately most of our heritage when we conformed to foreign ways foreign beliefs and foreign money to enrich ourselves instead of holding on to our heritage.
      4. An eyesore, smelly, people drinking and idling, embarrassing! Lol.This sounds like every corner of every Caribbean island. We are an ISLAND and live an island life. Stop trying to be like people who do not care or respect us for who we are. Stop trying to make others happy instead of your own. And yes, some of the negative comments sound like foreigners so if I am wrong this is not for you… Leave if you don’t like how we are. If the commenters are should be ashamed of your hypocritical selves.
      5. Yes it owned by Mr. johnson, he had no use for it all these years so now why the big rush. Yes it is his and he has every right but to treat our fishermen and their sellers, our older Caymanian people, our young people and visitors who are enchanted by the Long standing fish site as pariahs is unacceptable. Hope this last bad weather enlightened you on what kind of “tourist spot for swimming and fun” can be done there. It CANNOT!. Never could that’s why it has always been a fisherman spot. Further, with the feeding of fish as a tourist “highlight” to visitors at various sites on island, one being right near there, I don’t think this was thought out sufficiently as to the liabilities he would have been burdened with if little foreign visitors were attacked out there by tarpons or baracudas, even small sharks that have been wandering in, as we know tourists don’t abide by the rules and won’t take off their shiny jewellery when going into the water.
      6. Clearly to own it Mr Johnson must also be an older person. So why don’t you leave a positive mark sir and have the place entrusted to the national trust with a plaque or monument in honour of your good works that would better recognize you as it is not financially viable anymore, and erase the discord that is present.
      7. 60 years may be a dot (this comment was clearly not written by a cym) but as we are a relatively new country, yes our little island is our country, it must be expected that 60 years is a generation and important to us. Every country in the world started somewhere, they never jumped to hundreds or thousands without starting in singles.
      8. Every issue that relates to our people, the livelihood of our people, the safety of our people, that impacts our people are important to bring to government parliament. So stick that stupid comment about what’s not important to where that other commenter said… Where the sun don’t shine, the grass don’t blow and the water don’t flow, but (in your case the water does flow…from your brain)
      9. Stop hiding behind anonymous…it shows your lack of backbone. You like to bully and talk but can’t walk the walk. Show yourselves cowards. If not then don’t berrate people for their free speech with your insults.

      And in closing, we pray that whatever “deal” has been made will be in the best interest of our people, our island, the owner, the government then the rest of the world (in that order) because without people the rest are nothing.

      Stay safe, be kind, be wise, be Godly in all things. ☮️#caymankind

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m completely shocked by your comment. Look, the landowner has provided the fishermen / salesmen a place since the 1970s without rent. The landowner is also putting it into a trust for the people of Cayman as described in this article. Instead of being grateful and not even offering a single thank you over the years, the fishermen / salesmen have trashed the site, vandalized the site to a point where it’s dangerous to visit. Shopping carts, old signs, rebar litter the site. It’s completely disgusting. They’ve also caused environmental damage to the site. Cement has been poured illegally all over the beach, which now must be removed to restore the beach back to its natural state. If I was the landowner, I would have the fishermen pay for this vandalism.
        Any other landowner would of charged rent years ago, otherwise removed these trespassers from the site. Why are you and the fishermen / salesmen so ungrateful? How can you just take, take, take without any thanks and while doing so trash the site to a point of environmental damage?

      • anonymous says:

        Clearly you do not remember the old days when it was not a fish market. Granted fish were brought in by boat and sold but it was never a fish market. In fact many families used to swim there. You need talk to Larry Cayasso and Joan Wilson nee Watler.
        Moreover it was being used by numerous tourists before the cruise ships ceased to come in.
        Making the beach available to all the community is brilliant because as you well know, beach access has become a real problem.
        For your edification Mr Johnson having turned down a large offer from the Government is donating the land to a trust for the benefit of the people of the Cayman Islands. There will be a proper board of trustees. For your further edification be built the new sidewalk and fence in 2015 with little or no thanks.
        He has done much good to benefit Cayman as a whole particularly in sport and community service.It is time to stop giving him flack, particularly politicians such as Mclean and Bryan who are using this to gather votes. They need get some fridges to give away and some to keep the fishmongers fish fresh.

  12. Mikey says:

    Please help them to ice down this fish, put up a sign “FRESH FISH” keep the fish properly iced after the cleaning process, we don’t need or desire a display of hot sunned catch.

    • Anonymous says:

      The problem is that they are not fresh.
      So that is gross misrepresentation.
      Besides it is a shitty location. It impedes people from swimming.

      • Anonymous says:

        The fish market in its current form is actually the opposite of the GT rejuvenation initiative. It creates traffic congestion, it looks awful, its intimidating to visit, its dangerous to visit and its unsanitary. Relocating it, if not done properly, will just be moving this growing problem elsewhere.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Should the Fisher-man be wearing a Cayman Strong rather than a Texas Strong Tee shirt , just wondering .

    • ACaymanian says:

      This appears to be good news . Hope we’ll see the final accord come into being before May 2021.

      The Ministry of health should ensure proper health standards are enforced at the site not some if the time but all the time.

      The Spirits if those who yesteryear traversed the iron shore and Red Spot in particular can rest now.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m not sure that this is good news. I hope the fishermen have taken legal advice about how this will affect their prescriptive
        Rights. The trust might or might not be the best answer. They either have already earned a right to that spot or not.

        • Anonymous says:

          You must be joking. They don’t have any grounds for prescriptive rights. There was one guy who used to stand in the sea cleaning fish on a 2×12 on the ironshore who would sell fish just up to a few years ago. For the last 5 years they’ve put up tents and have trashed the site.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m skeptical, I think its going to turn into a bodden town public beach situation. GT is still heading down (the rejuvenation project is a few years too late) and undesirables are and will continue to be attracted to the location.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well it’s not like he’s even Caymanian.

    • Anonymous says:

      No he should not. Too much time on your hands to think of so much stupidity?

    • Anonymous says:

      More like a Cayman stinks t-shirt. Or Pirate strong with a picture of Bush in his black dress and blond wig.

    • Rick says:

      Both are appropriate. Many Caymanians are wannabe Texans, since the days of Western dollar movies.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have ventured into this fish stand once. I was struck by how uncivil and aggressive this fishmonger behaved. I wondered if he was Caymanian? However, he had a very menacing look and he had a very sharp machete so self preservation clicked and I made a swift exit promising to avoid the area in the future.

  14. Anonymous says:

    That market should disappear by its own conditions!
    Someone go and check their fish quality ☠️ 🐠
    Are you kidding me ?

    • Anonymous says:

      I take Robert freshly caught real local fish all the time to sell for me, so you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  15. Anonymous says:

    How about government does random stops at the market to check that best health and safety practices are being followed? Maybe take a temperature probe with them and check that the fish is 40° or below?

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, the Government doesn’t do things like that. (It doesn’t pay enough.)

    • Anonymous says:

      Whatever, but the first thing they should do is thank Chris Johnson for handing the property over to the people of the Cayman Islands..
      Thank you Chris.

    • Anonymous says:

      Great point but the DEH guys are afraid of those guys. Much easier to pick on Supermarkets.

  16. Say it like it is says:

    “Govt has to do what is necessary to preserve valuable cultural sites”. What did they do to the gentleman who in a fit of pique, flattened the remains of the Old Fort on the George Town waterfront with a bulldozer?. They made him our first National Hero. Guess it depends where you come from.

  17. Anonymous says:

    good, I was missing my regular fresh catch square grouper

    • Anonymous says:

      just goto northside, washed up for free!

    • Anonymous says:

      Kenith Brian and Arden McLean have ganged up on Chris Johnson (who is the nice guy here) and have turned this whole thing into an expat vs Cayman thing. Shame on you. They have used social media to shame him which is terrible. Try doing something kind and constructive with your lives as politicians please.

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