PORT OF SPAIN – As more dead fish continued to wash ashore along the Mosquito Creek yesterday, president of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, Gary Aboud, put the blame squarely on Petrotrin’s shoulders.
In an interview on CNC3’s Morning Brew programme, Aboud lashed out at Petrotrin, claiming harmful chemicals, such as Corexit, which was used in the clean-up of the 2013 oil spill, were still affecting marine life.
“This started in 2013 with the Petrotrin oil spills. We had never seen this before in the southland. There were some fish deaths about 15 years ago caused by oxygen deprivation but that is naturally occurring phenomenon.
“This is not a naturally occurring phenomenom and it is happening in the same area where Petrotrin used thousands of gallons of Corexit to clean up the oil,” Aboud said
He called on President Anthony Carmona and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to intervene and call an environmental state of emergency in the Gulf of Paria.
“We are calling on the President and Prime Minister to intervene and close these beaches. Nobody should be allowed to walk on these beaches. We have evidence that there is Corexit six inches below the sand on these beaches,” he claimed.
“The entire food chain is being contaminated. If you go to the Gulf of Paria, the water smells like faeces and oil.
“No one has quantified the amount of toxic waste that is in the gulf. We need an environmental state of emergency. We have said that and people say we are being extreme,” Aboud added.
While he is pointing fingers at Petrotrin, activist Edward Moodie told the T&T Guardian yesterday different types of fish continued to wash up overnight in the Oropouche River.
“There were a lot of branch, a kind of flat fish, washing up in the river mouth on Wednesday night. The EMA came out and did onsite tests for micro-carbons and of course they found nothing. The IMA is supposed to go up today (yesterday) and do their tests,” he added.
Moodie said he believed the dead fish were coming from the Point Lisas area.
“The fish is coming from Point Lisas and are being brought down to the creek by the long shore drift. Those fish were dead for more than 48 hours and more than enough time for them to drift down here because these fish did not die here. They died somewhere else,” he added.
The T&T Guardian contacted Petrotrin’s head of External Communications & Branding, Corporate Communications Department, Joy Antoine, yesterday for a comment on the issue. She asked that questions be sent via email but up until yesterday evening there no response.
Preliminary investigations into the cause of death of thousands of fish along the shoreline of the Gulf of Paria have indicated they were dumped in the area, a joint press release by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) said yesterday afternoon.
The release said a team of representatives from the EMA’s Emergency Response and Investigations (ERI) Unit and the IMA, headed by Dr Farahnaz Solomon, fisheries biologist, made site visits to the Mosquito Creek and environs yesterday.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the dead fish observed were herrings (bait fish) approximately four inches in length. Other specimens were in a moderate to advanced stage of decomposition. No dying fish were observed, indicating this is not an ongoing event,” the release added.
The investigators also noted that the herrings appeared to have bruises, in the form of red marks, along the body. The release indicated the position of these marks were variable and in some cases accompanied by “net” impressions or markings.
The release added that during interviews with fishermen from the area, investigators were told herring was currently being caught in that area.
It added that there were no visible signs of an oil spill or a red tide in the area and the preliminary results were that the fish may have been dumped.
The two agencies were still testing the water and soil from the sea bed up until yesterday afternoon and promised to release the results once the tests were completed.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) issued a press release yesterday, stating that the Ministry of Health has been alerted to the potential sale of the dead fish by unscrupulous fishermen.
The authority said: “The EMA also notes with concern media reports of fish from the incident being collected and attempted to be sold by individuals.
“The EMA, out of an abundance of caution, has alerted the Ministry of Health and the County Medical Officers of Health (CMOH), especially in the Victoria County, of the reports so that increased surveillance and preventative measures can be implemented, given the fact that there is no definitive cause of the fish kill at this time.”
The release also stated that the authority was investigating the deaths, with the support of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory of the Animal Production and Health Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries.