The Voiceless Community of Las Cuevas
Date: April 19th, 2018
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) welcome development for Las Cuevas that preserves the integrity of the natural capital and biodiversity of this area but there must be a balance of economic development and environmental protection which begins with lawfulness.
For the past 6 months, FFOS have been appealing to the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) to investigate earth and beach works taking place on the Las Cuevas Estate and beach. A video being circulated in social media clearly shows that earth works are still on-going, and the EMA have not intervened or exercised its own jurisdiction in satisfaction of the mandate of the Environmental Management Act.
Why has the EMA not responded to six months of FFOS complaints about this developer? Why is this developer not behind bars? Repeatedly the EMA have warned the developer and yet no enforcement action has been taken. An average citizen may have already been arrested and the destructive works would have been halted. The EMA filed an injunction in 2011 against Michael Trestrail who was doing minor works in a restricted area compared to what is currently occurring on the Las Cuevas Beach Turtle Nesting Site.
In 2014 all five (5) marine turtles in Trinidad and Tobago were designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Species. It is against the LAW to disturb these marine turtles during periods of breeding and to destroy their habitat. The location where the developer is doing the work is a well-known turtle nesting site, and we are presently in turtle nesting season.
Without an independent, unbiased, apolitical EMA, what is to become of our Las Cuevas community, of our fisher folk, our marine turtles, our ecosystems and our fisheries?
The EMA has the authority to go to the Environmental Commission and file an injunction. Why have they not filed an injunction against this developer?
Up until 12th April 2018, there are no new Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) Applications for any earth works in Las Cuevas. FFOS call on the EMA to investigate if there are any breaches to the forty-four (44) environmentally impacting activities listed in the CEC (Designated Activities) Order (as amended). If this is the case, then the full weight of the Law must be brought to bear without fear or favour.
When an official turns a blind eye on even the smallest of laws, all laws in every corner of our country are weakened.