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2013 La Brea Oil Spill
La Brea: Fish kill or fish dump?

La Brea: Fish kill or fish dump?

Date: June 30th , 2018

Dear Editor/Newsroom,

For the past 52 months since the 2013 Petrotrin oil spills, sudden, major and ongoing fish kills have been re-occurring daily in the “clearly defined Petrotrin Red Zone area” from Mosquito Creek to Point Fortin with concentrated mortalities in the Aripero Lagoon area off La Brea. La Brea- Fish Kill or fish Dump? For the past 52 months since the 2013 Petrotrin oil spills, sudden, major and ongoing fish kills have been re-occurring daily in the “clearly defined Petrotrin Red Zone area” from Mosquito Creek to Point Fortin with concentrated mortalities in the Aripero Lagoon area off La Brea. FFOS acknowledges the article written by Dr Farahnaz Solomon PHD, of the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA), headlined “Fish Kill vs. Fish Dump” in the Trinidad Express dated 28th June 2018 and respond with concern. The IMA article is really only a set of general guidelines for differentiating fish kills from fish dumps since there are no data in the article about the ongoing and recent fish kills in the Aripero Lagoon area off La Brea. It neither proves nor disproves any particular event nor does it address the multitudes of frigate birds and corbeaux which continue to wash ashore dead or dying and could not have been discarded by a shrimp trawler. It’s kind of hard to write a rebuttal to this article because it doesn’t really make any specific or scientific claims of merit. Fish Kill events FFOS agree with the IMA that the most prevalent cause of fish kills are due to natural events but the learned institution conveniently fails to realize that human activities can influence their frequency and severity. Immediately after the 2013 Petrotrin Oil Spills, and annually on the start of each rainy season or when the December tidal movements pull more strongly, there has been sudden increases in the intensity of mortalities of fish, birds, mammals and/or crustaceans evident at sea or washing ashore on the coastline from Mosquito Creek to Point Fortin, but especially in the Aripero Lagoon in La Brea. Never before in our history were there ever such a wide variety of species mortality in a defined area, (and for such a long and marked time), with dying animals with lesions, washing ashore in this or in any other coastal area in Trinidad or Tobago. The IMA have stated that they have interviewed fishermen but- Have the IMA ever received complaints of tens of thousands of dying or dead fish and other animals washing ashore daily prior to the December 2013 Petrotrin Oil spills? Where are those complaint reports? How many individuals were interviewed by the IMA and where are those interviews recorded? What were the responses of the interviewees? Did the IMA act on any report prior to the December 2013 oil spills? Did any of the interviewees ever walk the 4 miles of Point Sable Beach where the sick and dying animals in the throes of death are concentrated (since the 2013 spills)? Do the views of the interviewees represent the majority of the fisher-folk knowledge of the Gulf of Paria or the country? How can a research institute draw conclusions from hearsay rather than scientific analysis? Fish species observed The IMA claims that 90% of the dead fish were bait fish. This is simply untrue. It is only on one occasion since the start of the fish kills in 2013 that were there were over 90% of the dead fish being baitfish (herring, sardine or Joshua). Science must be true and must represent a wide study period, not a single event? Why has the IMA not asked FFOS for its 5 years of site visits recorded in video and photographic footage? FFOS have been visiting Point Sable Beach in La Brea, almost every Saturday at falling tide since the 2013 oil spill disasters. A total of 25 species of fish (including many species of high commercial value) have been counted and reported in varying quantities and sizes including Paoua(Power), Red fish, Bouché, Rokando, Salmon, Sapaté, Cavali, Blinch, Grunt, Cro Cro, Cutlass fish, Blowfish, Brunch, Catfish, Crapaud Fowl fish, Gar fish, Jack skimmers, Herring, Joshua, Moonshine, Mullet, Plato, Tauret, Tedral, chip chip, sting rays, crabs, shrimps, pelicans, frigate birds, corbeaux, and dozens of bottle nose and common dolphins. Why would trawlers dump commercially marketable fish?

The dying and dead fish from La Brea for bare no net marks as shown below. They are perfect specimens except catfish observed in 2013/4/5/6/7 most of which have lesions. Truth about dumped fish On 6th July, 2017 Dr Farahnaz Solomon stated in an article published in the Daily Express Lifestyle Environment, titled “Bait dump vs Fishkill in Chaguaramas”, that “by-catch often bear net marks on their body as a sign of having been caught”. However, in the 28th July 2018 article titled “ Fish Kill vs. Fish Dump” the same author, Dr Solomon stated that “trawl bycatch do not bear net marks”. Are these conflicting conclusions based on science? Trawlers drag large, heavy “tickler” chains across the seafloor. Therefore, most fish that are trapped within these nets becomes marked and/or mangled.

The dying and dead fish from La Brea for bare no net marks as shown below. They are perfect specimens except catfish observed in 2013/4/5/6/7 most of which have lesions.

FFOS requests

On 11th June, 2018 the IMA claim to have conducted water quality tests on physical parameters such as temperature, pH, salinity and dissolved oxygen, yet the IMA did not report an intention to conduct any further chemical analyses to determine conclusively the cause of death of the marine animals. FFOS continue to appeal to the Government to: 1. Close the “Petrotrin Red Zone” area from Mosquito Creek to Point Fortin, from any crab catching, shrimp trawling or any type of fishing 2. Remove residual contaminated sand from this area which is lodged in the Aripero Mangrove/Lagoon. 3. Continuously collect living specimens from this area to determine the safety of fish, crab or shrimp for consumption by testing for cancer causing hydrocarbons (PAHs and POPs)band heavy metals associated with hydrocarbon contamination such as Mercury, Zinc, Chromium, Cadmium and Lead that bio accumulate and are bio available. 4. To consider fair compensation for our Southern fishers who have been abandoned for 5 years since the 2013 disaster. Is a notable and long standing scientific institution misleading the population without the guidance of adequate scientific analysis? Are they misleading the population in dismissing a contaminated food source that may be risking human health?
Sincerely,
Gary Aboud
Corporate Secretary

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