TRINIDAD – FFOS: Don’t eat that fish

PORT OF SPAIN – Environmental activist group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) is calling for the immediate ban of fishing and swimming and for the public to stop consuming bottom feeding fishes in La Brea, claiming that private tests show a high level of toxicity in fish from the area.

The environmental activist group made the announcement at a press conference on Thursday at the Centre for Human Rights in Belmont.

Jenepher Mohammed says sales have been slow at the San Fernando Fish market.
Jenepher Mohammed says sales have been slow at the San Fernando Fish market.

Secretary of Fishermen and Friends of the SEA Gary Aboud presented the results of the independent Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH) testing which contradicted the results made by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).

FFOS had three water, fish and sediment (sand) testing conducted by Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI).

The report was received on July 27 and the date of the report was August 2.

According to the report, the client sample acquired was for water were from Carat Shed, Point Sybil beach with the control being Maracas.

The sediment sample were from Carat Shed (by the jetty), Point Sybil beach (close to River Mouth) and the control was at maracas.

The fish sample were from Carat Shed and Point Sybil beach close to River mouth #1 and #2.

FFOS said: “The bottom dwelling fish tested are contaminated 170,000 to 1,400,000 times more than the European Union recommended benchmark for hydrocarbon testing. (The EU benchmark is two microgrammes per kilogramme which is two parts per billion and what we found are 334,990 microgrammes per kilogramme to 2,680,730 microgrammes per kilogramme)”.

FFOS is blaming the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) for not being honest to the members of the public and accused it of creating false information by using inaccurate testing methodologies.

Aboud said: “This is what we believe, we believe that this is a deliberate and conscious act of attempting to falsify the truth to prevent a national panic. A national panic this deserve”.

FFOS also stated: “If the methodology is incorrect, the findings will be incorrect…So why are they hiding the lab reports and the methodology? In matters of public health we as a nation must have zero tolerance for incompetence. People are being poisoned by the IMA/EMA secrecy”.

Last month scores of dead fishes surfaced along the Mosquito Creek in the Gulf of Paria.

This raised concern by many as the dead creatures were believed to be the result of the Corexit 9500 which was previously used by State Owned Company Petrotrin in 2013 to clean-up the oil spill.

Petrotrin labelled parts of La Brea beaches a “Red Zone”.

However, several fishermen refuted this claim that the dead fishes were the result of the Corexit. They instead said it was dumped fish.

FFOS said: “FFOS have showed that these tons and tons of fish and other creatures could not be dumped from any number of trawlers for a variety of reasons. The fish have no net marks, the fish are alive when they wash ashore and the fish are valuable commercial species, Pelicans and corbeaux, crab and flipper dolphins are not by-catch discard. Finally, no-one would dump hundreds of thousands of pounds, day after day”.

The FFOS is calling on the Government to make the laboratory reports and laboratory analysis public knowledge.

It is calling for an appointment of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate and report to the nation within 21 days.

“ Ban all fishing in the contaminated red zone which was established by Petrotrin. Prohibit all recreational or other exposure to the contaminated red zone area. Examine all of the bottom feeding (demersal) fish being sold from the Gulf of Paria at all fishing centres”, stated the FFOS.

The organisation is also calling for there to be compensation for all affected boat owners, captains, sailors, vendors, engine and net owners of the fisherfolk community.

In a statement from the EMA said that it was aware that a report which was made public on the Cariri tests on water, sediment and fish samples taken from the Carat Shed and Point Sybil beaches which referenced total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH).

The EMA said that it’s samples are still being analysed for the presence of TPH compounds.

The EMA stated: “ The EMA’s samples are still being analysed for the presence of TPH compounds at this time, and the findings will be released to the public at earliest.

This follows tests of water, sediment and fish samples taken in the Gulf of Paria (La Brea to Otaheite) which revealed that no compounds matching COREXIT were found in the samples. Pathology tests on the fish samples showed that “all body systems examined appeared grossly normal” with “no gross lesions” on the fish carcasses. Previous results from the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for internal parasites were negative.

The EMA reiterates that the tests results validate the preliminary investigation findings as one of by-catch, spoilt or unwanted catch by fishing vessels operating in the Gulf of Paria”.

Vendor Jenepher Mohammed said she was badly affected by the slow sale of fishes since the surfacing of the dead fishes.

She said that customers are refusing to purchase the fish, even though she purchased the fishes from fishermen from Maracas, Mayaro and Moruga.

However, Mohammed is calling on the Government to publicly state whether the fish is poisoned of safe for the public.

Source: (Trinidad Express)

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