All Tobago Fisherfolk Association (ATFA) President Junior Quashie on Thursday called for seismic surveys in the Tobago Trough and surrounding areas be stopped immediately as he told reporters fishermen has had the bleakest Christmas ever with fish catch significantly reduced as a result of the work being conducted from December 4, 2018.
But an official of Gulf Agency Company (GAC) is denying any seismic surveys was conducted in the reported period in the area and that “preliminary investigations indicate that the allegations being made by a person purporting to be a representative of Tobagonian fishermen are not true.”
On Wednesday, Quashie claimed that a vessel was pulling 11 miles of cable behind the boat.
“… it is 50 metres deep under the water, so anywhere it passes, anything in its way… fads it destroys, fishing pots it destroys surety.(Fads are man-made floating objects specifically constructed to attract fish, as well as natural objects that are found by fishermen and modified.)
“From the day these people came to Tobago, we started to miss our fads. The company is GAC and they are doing a contract for another contractor, Caribbean Wells in San Fernando. The frightful part about this is that we don’t know who to talk to,” he said.
“We have lost up to 80 fads in the water, totally destroyed and counting. Some of the fishermen have not brought in their claims as yet. You can’t catch anything. As it stands right now, nobody wants to go to see because we’re just buying gas and wasting every single cent. This is the peak in our season, our season starts October and runs through November, December, January, February right down to May and right now we’re getting nothing.
“Nobody is listening to us. We reached out to the Secretary of Fisheries, the Director, the EMA (Environmental Management Agency) but no one is taking our call,” he said.
“To rectify the situation, this company must stop. Meet with the fisherfolk… we are the ones feeling the pinch, meet with us and discuss with us a way forward. Compensate us for all the damage they have done to us, we need that.
“Right now, we are calling on the Minister of Energy, the Prime Minister, everybody to stop that survey, it is totally illegal. The law in Trinidad and Tobago states that once you are doing a seismic survey, you must do a minimum of three public consultations and we’re not aware of one,” Quashie said.
In a press release in response to calls for information, Operations Supervisor at GAC Energy and Marine Services Ltd, Delicia Villaroel, said that principal MultiClient Geophysical AS of Norway has entered in an agreement with the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries to conduct a 2D Seismic Survey off the Tobago Trough and surrounding areas.
Villaroel identified current operations being located offshore west and north-west of Tobago, Barbados and Grenada, “where few fisherfolk have been encountered.
“May we state that one of the few encounters was with a drifting Barbadian fishing crew - whom had drifted for 14 days without power, water or food - out to the SW of Grenada and was rescued by the crew of the MV Shannon. The company continues to remain open to any discussion with fishing organisations in the area,” she said.