Is Fish Safe To Eat?
Date: September 21st ,2016
In light of the independent laboratory analysis conducted by the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) for Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) AND the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), we are advising that caution be observed in the consumption of demersal fish (bottom dwellers) from the waters surrounding La Brea until further investigation can be done into the hydrocarbon contamination. The report dated August 19th 2016 shows Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH) readings in excess of 26 000 mg/kg both in the flesh of fish and sediment sampled in La Brea. This is significantly higher than any scientific study on the matter or similar investigation into environmental and human health concerns. These alarming readings are of samples taken from the same beaches affected by the oil spills and where FFOS continues to document sick and dying fish washing ashore daily. This analysis which was done jointly with the EMA utilized the same methodology, the same laboratory and with a larger sample size of fish than those previously conducted by the EMA. As joint clients FFOSwere able to share the results from the CARIRI Service Report, despite request from various authorities not to. Having made statements previously that all fish were “grossly normal” and dumped by fishermen the EMA have distanced themselves from these results which they themselves jointly sampled and had commissioned. Fish samples are now to be taken from 12 geographic areas from around Trinidad and Tobago to be sent to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Their results the EMA say would provide basis for a definitive statement on the issue. Why the internationally accredited and certified laboratories throughout T&T have been bypassed in favor of the FDA remains unclear. Why is a very serious public health concern to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago being handed over to a US Government entity without a deadline, while locally available resources are being overlooked and previous reports – such as the National Environment Assessment Task Force Oil Spill Report- still remain missing? Furthermore the FDA has historically and continues to be accused of dishonest and politically/corporately motivated misconduct. We empathize with our members, the local fishermen whose livelihoods have been impacted by these investigations but our concern must be the protection of their lives and the health of the public above all else.
The question that needs to be answered is: Why do fish continue to wash ashore dead and dying in La Brea for three years immediately following the largest oil spill in our nation’s history? That answer will tell us whether or not the fish in our waters are safe for consumption. FFOS is calling for a transparent group of both State and Civil Society Organizations – including fishermen – to establish the cause of the on-going fish kills, to eliminate this cause and to ensure the well-being of both our environment and the public health.