World Oceans Day 2021
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) today recognizes World Oceans Day 2021. It is safe to say that after almost 30 years of recognizing this day Trinidad and Tobago has shown no significant change to improve our invaluable marine environment.
As an island nation our oceans should be of utmost importance to us as they not only provide a livelihood for our fisherfolk but also functions as an international tourism product. However, it seems as though our waters are being neglected and, in some instances, intentionally abused.
Intentional abuse in the form of seismic surveys which decimate our waters killing all of the microorganisms that inhabit the area. Fishermen will tell you that after a seismic survey it is highly unlikely, if not impossible to catch fish in that area for weeks after. Why do our authorities continue to allow this destruction of these marine ecosystems?
The Point Lisas Estate is another source of an unquantifiable amount of pollutant that enters into our Gulf of Paria. For decades this estate has discharged its waste into our Gulf without any monitoring or obligation to report what its discharge contains. Sadly, our Environmental Management Authority (EMA) does not have the legislative support to demand this information from these companies that were in existence before the passing of the Certificate of Environment Clearance (CEC) Rules 2001. Almost 70% of the fish we consume comes from the Gulf of Paria, so why is this body of water allowed to continuously be poisoned without any accountability?
FFOS have always believed that whatever happens on the land ends up in the ocean meaning that all of the land-based abuses that go unchecked continue to negatively affect the quality of our waters. There is the unlined Beetham Landfill which continues to pollute our water table with its toxic ooze. There is also the waste from mineral extraction which turns our clear rivers brown and muddy with sediments which then find their way into our oceans. Even other industrial estates which waste eventually end up in our waters and the list of pollutants can go on and on.
However, pollution is not the only problem that our oceans face. Our country requires an urgent and immediate legislative change to address many of the problems we face. The outdated Fisheries Act of 1916 is not equipped to protect our fisheries from the unsustainable fishing methods that our waters are plagued with, including shrimp trawling, monofilament nets, non-biodegradable fish pots and so much more. Additionally, the Beverage Container Bill which was aimed at reducing plastic pollution has been neglected after numerous empty promises by Minster after Minister that it would be passed.
FFOS has repeatedly made calls to all Governments for these problems to be addressed but no one is answering. Our Government is failing our environment both terrestrial and marine. Until and unless this country receives the legislative awakening that is so desperately required, our environment will continue to be exploited and abused.