Wednesday, February 21, 2018

$1200 a day for fishermen affected by oil spill

...while they await permission from the EMA to return to sea

la brea

Fishing pirogues at Coffee Beach, La Brea, following the oil spill clean up. Fishermen are awaiting word on when it will be safe to return to sea. Photo by Dave Persad

Donstan Bonn

Fishermen affected by the oil spills in the Gulf of Paria are

being paid a daily rate of $1,200, while they wait for the green light to resume fishing.

The fishermen have not returned to the sea since crude washed ashore at beaches in the southwestern peninsula on December 18.

President of the La Brea Fisherfolk Association, Alvin La Borde, said fishermen were not prepared to return to sea until the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) confirms that the water is no longer contaminated.

La Borde said fishermen were satisfied with the sum being paid.

Petrotrin's corporate communications department confirmed yesterday that the company was paying loss of earnings at a daily rate of $1,200.

However, Petrotrin did not provide information on how much it has cost the company and how long the payment would continue.

La Borde said 28 fishing vessels were contaminated by the oil-stained waters. The vessels were cleaned and washed by a contractor hired by Petrotrin.

"We are satisfied with the chemical used to wash the boats. The boats were cleaned and prepared to return to sea, when we are given the all clear," he said.

La Borde said fishermen were also concerned that the dispersant used to remove the oil from the water's surface, would contaminate marine life.

"We have to be certain before we go out to sea. We don't want to sell people contaminated fish. I am in contact with the fishermen and they are eager to go back to work. But we just want to make sure the water and marine life are safe," he said.

Petrotrin and EMA officials have been conducting water quality testing in the area. The company was unable to say when the fishermen would be given the green light to return to sea.

The clean up exercises at Station Beach, Carat Shed Beach and Point Sable Beach were completed. However, work was ongoing at a nearby mangrove where oil has stained tree roots and other areas along the river.