April 25, 2016

Development on the North Coast

Unregulated Development on the North Coast

Fishermen and Friends of the Sea found its beginnings in 1996 when concerned citizens and fishermen formed a group named “Fishermen and Friends of the North Coast” in an attempt to sensitize the government and the public on the environmental issues impacting the Northern Coast of Trinidad and consequently, the fishermen in the area. As such, FFOS has a vested interest in the health and livelihoods of the people and the natural environment of the North Coast.


 

Leaving the Eco out of Eco–Tourism: The Maracas Beach Redesign and Restoration Project

The Tourism Development Company Limited (TDC) is a state enterprise of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, mandated to develop and market Trinidad and Tobago’s tourism product . It is in this quest to market Trinidad that the TDC has embarked on the Maracas Beach Redesign and Restoration Project.

They first applied for their Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) required for taking such an action from the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) back in 2006 and were met with resistance especially on the matter of clearing a wetland area so that the north coast road could be straightened. The contractors employed by the TDC argued that the “wetlands” were not real wetlands because they were able to walk through them, further stating that in their assessed view there would be no adverse impact as the area contained no rare trees .The EMA replied by correcting the contractors on what a wetland actually is and insisted to the TDC that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) , that is, an investigation into the true cost to the community and environment of the project was needed. The TDC shortly after receiving the terms of reference for the Impact Assessment withdrew its application for clearance .

According to the EMA records however less than 7 working days later, the TDC reapplied for a CEC for the Maracas Bay facilities upgrade and despite the previous CEC taking almost 2 years of back and forth to sort out, the new CEC appeal is approved and cleared in only 2 months! This time with no mention of the wetlands issue at all. Instead as a side note there is mention that 2.1ha of “land” will be excavated and filled in for the realigning of the north coast road.

There was a great deal of additional terms and conditions to be observed by the TDC before during and after the project is completed, however a few of the terms seem not to have been followed, these include but are not limited to;
• Informing the general public as well as surrounding residents of all work two weeks prior to commencement by a variety of outlined medium including flyers, mail, notifications in schools and community centres.
• Notification and availability of the following information to the community; precise location of the activity, all associated logistics including resources, infrastructure, scheduling etc., and possible impacts associated with the project and mitigation measures to be implemented.
• Sedimentation retention measures constructed prior to commencement of earthworks to minimise the amount of sediment migrating off site.

None of these seem to have been observed before the project began and subsequent site visits have revealed that these terms meant to be observed during the activity also seem to be ignored;
• All earthwork is to be done in a manner to prevent erosion and siltation.
• Clearing shall be strictly limited to the area proposed for the road re-alignment.
• The clearing shall be done on a phase basis minimizing the amount of time the land is without vegetative cover and ensure the exposed areas are not subject to erosion.
• Excess from excavation shall not be left piled on site.
• Temporary drainage shall be designed to prevent runoff of silted material into a municipal drain or surround area or watercourse.

Not only was that last term not followed but the Maracas River that runs through the area of the activity is nearly filled in. There are a number of other activities which we have no way of knowing if they are being followed such as the proper disposal of waste and disinfecting of the decommissioned sewage pipes but surely they are perfectly adhering to those terms. These actions which were observed do however closely resemble the actions which were proposed in the previous CEC application (the one which was questioned and later withdrawn).


 

FFOS: Maracas Beach Quarry
Story Created: Apr 23, 2016

 

To date, unregulated activities (including quarrying and mining) on the twin-island state of Trinidad and Tobago continue threaten our once rich, naturally regenerating freshwater supplies.


 

CCNTV6: Las Cuevas Estate
Story Created: Apr 6, 2016

 

The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) tells a wealthy developer to halt illegal clearing on the foothills of Las Cuevas, Trinidad, but residents fear significant environmental damage has already been done. And with the rainy season weeks away, a fragile food chain vital to the fisher-folks could be dramatically disrupted.