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2013 La Brea Oil Spill
World Environmental Day must be more than lip service….

World Environmental Day must be more than lip service….

Date: June 3rd , 2017

Dear Editor/Newsroom,

World Environment Day must be more than lip service…

Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) are proud that the United Nations has designated June 5th as World Environment Day… but what does this day mean without action?

Globally and locally, there is little or poorly enforced maritime legislation, and no Trans-boundary Marine Conventions that are independently enforced to protect the world’s shared marine spaces from the accelerating human threats of seismic detonations and oil and petrochemical extraction, transportation and refinery activities.

Locally in Trinidad and Tobago, our 20 year old fishery integrated NGO, FFOS, are struggling with independently measured hydrocarbon toxicities in our near shore fisheries of the Gulf of Paria (our seafood basket) where over 75% of all local fish catch is captured.

This contamination continues to threaten the health of fish, birds and shrimp … and all seafood consumers locally and in countries where our seafood is exported.
FFOS are sending out this SOS for international exposure, attention and intervention for this major and ongoing environmental disaster. The pictures below are self explanatory.

In December 2013, 7000 reported barrels of spilt bunker oil (with the dispersant COREXIT 9500) washed into the Aripero Lagoon, up the Aripero River and into the Aripero Mangroves in the Gulf of Paria, Trinidad. Every year for the past four years, when the heavy rains come, literally millions of bottom feeding fish some which wash ashore on the beaches of La Brea in the throes of death and most dead.
The Minister visited and surveyed the beach which was raked clean, but the COREXIT 9500 was left and something unusually unnatural is happening.

Literally millions of fish are washing ashore, and then when the rain ceases the death toll recedes but continues every day till today. For 4 years our Government has hidden behind the explanation that the dead fish are being dumped, but we are fishers, why would we dump our valuable catch?

Bottle nose dolphins washed ashore… more than 20 in the past three years,

Pelicans and vultures by the hundreds continue to wash ashore…

Many of the sick and dying fish have bloody lesions and haemorrhaging inconsistent with net markings
but similar to many of the lesions we have seen in the fish which were impacted by the 2010 Deep Water
Horizon Blowout in the Gulf of Mexico where the same chemical dispersant, COREXIT 9500 was used.

Many of the sick fish look perfect and continue to be captured, sold and consumed. .

FFOS financed several laboratory reports from local, but internationally accredited laboratories. These
reports showed dangerous levels of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH), and then we did several tests
for Poly Cyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), again the professorial conclusion stated (below) that the
area is “significantly contaminated … thereby posing a significant threat to human health”.

FFOS assembled Presidents and Vice Presidents of fishing organizations to appeal for Government’s
intervention, but we have been stonewalled. Instead the Government sent samples for testing abroad,
but never collected any samples from this “significantly contaminated” food basket lagoon area which
was recognized in 2012 as being a pristine lagoon

Our research has shown that the COREXIT combined with hydrocarbons, do disperse the oil, but increases the toxicity of the hydrocarbon contamination 52 fold. Although it is banned in several countries around the world, including Great Britain, here it is approved for oil spills, but only in the offshore areas three miles off the Coast, but not in a mangrove lagoon where it was used.

For the past 3 weeks the rains have returned and each week the carnage accelerates.
Today we visited the beach again at low tide (6am Saturday 3rd June2017, and recorded literally thousands of dead and dying fish, (18 species), whilst 4 shrimp trawlers dragged the lagoon for shrimp and fish (some of which will be exported to lucrative hard currency markets).
We need your help to expose our story on this special day, as we appeal for sound scientific investigation … and a remedy to this PAH contamination.

World Environment Day can only be meaningful if we are committed, each in our own special way, to helping each other, especially those human and biological communities who are without a voice.

Today, and always,

We remain,

Forever yours in sustainable and inclusionary development

Gary Aboud Corporate Secretary FFOS

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