THE ALL Tobago Fisherfolk Association (ATFA) is expressing disappointment and concern about the impact of a seismic survey on the livelihood of fisherfolk in Tobago.
Speaking with the media on November 9 at the Scarborough Esplanade, ATFA’s vice president Junior Quashie said a survey began on November 7 and will continue for ten days.
Quashie said the acting director of fisheries in the THA Division of Food Security, Natural Resources, the Environment and Sustainable Development, Garth Ottley, failed to inform the ATFA.
He said Ottley met with Woodside Energy to discuss the issue, which would heavily affect the fisherfolk on the island, without the knowledge of the association.
“It is time that they stop the division, Mr Garth (sic) and his team who are portraying (themselves) to be fishermen or fisherfolk, whatsoever they’re calling themselves. Mr Garth needs to end that, and we are here standing telling Mr Garth, stop the nonsense that he has been going on with, otherwise we’ll have to take him back to the court."
He said a court ruling a few years ago prohibited the THA fishing division from making decisions on behalf of the fisherfolk.
He said even Toco fishermen were informed of the survey, but the ATFA was not.
“Everybody knows ATFA – throughout the world. Write to ATFA, deal with ATFA. Let ATFA mind ATFA’s business.”
Association president Curtis Douglas believes seismic surveys affect the sector negatively.
“It is going to create great humbug and destruction to the fisherfolk in Tobago.”
He said the acting director continues to display blatant disrespect for the fishing and food security sector on the island.
“The director would have had meetings with these oil companies and settled for defensive driving and first aid – that is the compensation he is asking for, for Tobagonians. We did not have that say because they did not invite us, because we at ATFA had turned that down three or four years ago.”
When contacted, Ottley said Woodside Energy did meet with stakeholders in Tobago prior to the survey, adding that the division is a stakeholder.
“No discussions were held relating to compensation for Tobagonians, since that isn’t a function of the division. Neither was compensation for fishermen. That isn’t a responsibility of the department,” he said.