Monday, January 22, 2018

EMA urged to cancel seismic surveys

Oil spill in South


SEEKING ADVICE: Gary Aboud, left, president of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS), speaks to La Brea residents and fishermen at Queens Beach yesterday. —Photo: DEXTER PHILIP

Mark Fraser

THE Environmental Management Authority (EMA) is being urged to cancel the approval given to companies hired by State-owned Petrotrin to carry out a controversial seismic survey in the Gulf of Paria.

President of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) Gary Aboud said yesterday that the areas earmarked for testing were near where the oil spills had occurred.

Speaking to the media in La Brea, Aboud said, “We are looking at where they are coming to do the seismic testing. They gave us a map in yesterday’s (Sunday’s) paper which shows all the areas where they are doing the seismic testing.... all the areas where they have spills are the areas where they are going to do the seismic testing.”

Aboud, in a meeting of members of various fishing associations in Trinidad and Tobago, said the group was seeking legal advice against the Government to stop the seismic discharges in the sea. “We have begun preparing a legal action to challenge the Government in court that it (seismic surveying) is wrong because they are not putting any safeguards such as protection of the spawning areas,” he said. 

“The EMA said they don’t want to do that but all over the world they do that,” Aboud said. 

He said Petrotrin needed to treat with the fishermen from the various areas along the Gulf of Paria and hold a collective meeting with various associations, who are claiming neglect over how the oil spill had affected them. 

“We are calling on the Ministry of Energy and Petrotrin to come forward with all their technical staff and the presidents of our fishing associations. We have to sit down as gentlemen face to face,” he said. 

Responding yesterday, Minister of Energy Kevin Ramnarine said  a committee would be appointed to discuss the social impact of the oil spills. 

“The Cabinet has appointed a committee and we will have the National Security Council meeting. One of the matters to be discussed is the functioning of that committee, and the social impact of what has happened here and make recommendations with regard to compensation. We will address it in a structured way. There will be a technical committee (the composition of which) we will announce very soon. We empathise with the plight of the fishermen but we have to deal with them in a structured manner. We are dealing with the public’s money, not mine or your money. It’s the people’s money so we have to deal with it in a structured manner and systematic way,” said Ramnarine.