Seismic surveying or as the fishermen say, “seismic bombing”, involves discharging thousands of sub-sea acoustic explosions over large areas, which move through the water in all directions, penetrate the seabed and bounce back giving valuable information to help calculate optimal oil/gas drill points. The problem is that these sub-sea explosions disorientate, scatter, damage and kill fish.
To date, no research has been done on the impact of seismic surveys on marine life in the Caribbean.
In 2010, FFOS compiled a 68-page booklet based on research done by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (UNFAO) and in 2011 we enlisted the help of a University of the West Indies (UWI) scientist who summarised the findings of 64 studies carried out around the world into the impacts of seismic surveying.The UNFAO conclusion in the foreword of the 2010 dossier recommended “the urgent need for the development of a strongly regulated regime for the mitigation of seismic surveys and for further research so as to minimise the impact on coastal communities and fishers.”
Based on the 2010 dossier, FFOS was able to provide the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago with evidence of the damage being caused by ongoing seismic activity. The government did not respond.
In October 2014, 38 rural fishing community representatives and their supporters gathered at the International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, amidst 60 fishing vessels to peacefully picket; singing the National Anthem while highlighting the serious concerns raised by the fisher-folk in both Trinidad and Tobago that “seismic bombing” should require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Our police service used excessive and unnecessary force, which included kicking a fisherman who was already handcuffed on the ground, and threatening to discharge a hand-grenade into the middle of the crowd if we did not disperse. Our Constitution ensures the right to picket, yet three key members were arrested and charged with failure to apply for holding a meeting, conducting a meeting without the Commissioners approval, and failing to disperse when ordered.
In 2015, energy giant bpTT released a television advertisement stating that seismic bombings have no devastating effects on marine life. These series of advertisements ensured the public that seismic surveying was simply “taking a picture under the sea”.
FFOS responded by releasing a video of our own.
FFOS v EMA
On Monday 15th and Tuesday 16th June, 2015, FFOS appeared in the High Court of POS, before Madame Justice Nadia Kangaloo in a Judicial Review against the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) decision to grant a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) to State-owned Petrotrin – the largest crude oil producer on the island – to conduct seismic surveys without requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
The matter was deferred in Court numerous times, until March 4th, 2016, when Justice Kangaloo delivered a verbal judgement in favour of the EMA. A full written judgement on the matter was never shared by the Court with FFOS or our supporters.
FFOS shall continue to stand firm on the side of fishermen, fish and the integrity of both our oil/gas and fisheries sectors.