Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) is calling on the government to implement the necessary legislation to address the problems facing Trinidad and Tobago's terrestrial and marine environments.
It made the call on World Oceans Day, June 8.
In a release, FFOS corporate secretary Gary Aboud said after 30 years of recognising this day, TT has shown no significant change to improve the 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.”
He said the intentional abuse comes in the form of seismic surveys which “decimate our waters killing all of the microorganisms that inhabit the area. After a seismic survey, fishermen will tell you that 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?”
He said the Point Lisas Estate continues to produce an unquantifiable amount of pollutant that enters the Gulf of Paria. He said the estate has not been monitored or had an obligation to report what its discharge contains for decades.
“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 per cent 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? “
He said FFOS believes 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 TT's waters. He said the unlined Beetham Landfill, waste from mineral extraction, and waste from other estates are just some of the pollutants which leach into the seas.
He said TT requires an urgent and immediate legislative change to address many of the problems faced by the oceans and those who use them.
“The outdated Fisheries Act of 1916 is not equipped to protect our fisheries from the unsustainable fishing methods that our waters are plagued with, including shrimp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.”
Aboud said government is failing TT’s terrestrial and marine environments. He said until and unless TT receives a desperately required legislative awakening, the environment will continue to be exploited and abused.