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Cadiz demands action

By SASHA HARRINANAN Tuesday, December 17 2013

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RUSTING: Three of the 12 rusting, derelict vessels in the Gulf of Paria which environmentalists say poses an ecological nightmare as the vessels spew ...
RUSTING: Three of the 12 rusting, derelict vessels in the Gulf of Paria which environmentalists say poses an ecological nightmare as the vessels spew ...

TRANSPORT Minister Stephen Cadiz yesterday demanded action in terms of dealing with the fleet of 12 derelict vessels out in the Gulf of Paria as he instructed Director of Maritime Services, Beverly Phillip, to provide him with, “a detailed listing” of all vessels within Trinidad and Tobago’s territorial waters which have either been abandoned or pose a threat to the environment.

Cadiz told Newsday yesterday he expects to receive that report in two weeks, following which steps will be taken to ensure the vessels are “dealt with appropriately”, depending on condition and purpose for being in TT waters.

Cadiz noted that the Shipping Act, which dates back to the 1900s, has been amended over the years but requires further amendments to “widen the authority of the Director of Maritime Services to deal with errant ship owners and other matters.”

He said a decision was made “some time ago” to amend the Shipping Act and he hopes to “come to Parliament with these amendments by July 2014.”

The Transport Minister’s request for said report followed the publication of two reports, one by Newsday yesterday and one last week by another newspaper, about the environmental hazards posed by seemingly abandoned ships in the Carenage area of the Gulf of Paria.

Anchored about a quarter mile off shore from Carenage for more than a year, the 12 derelict vessels in question are visible from the TT Yacht Club as well as to residents of the high-rise condominium development, The Renaissance, at Shorelands.

Two of the vessels have since partially sunk and one seemed to be leaking diesel so an oil boom was placed around it last Friday to contain the fuel. Trinidad Vina Limited bought the vessels from New Orleans-based company Tidewater Marine after they had reached the end of their life span and could no longer be used in Brazil’s offshore oil industry. The company plans to break them up and sell the “scrap” steel parts to China.

Commodore Garnet Best, a contract employee within the Shipping Division of the Maritime Services Division, has been liaising with Trinidad Vina’s local representative over the past several months while the company, “has been obtaining the relevant approvals to begin breaking down the vessels.”

Responding to concerns by members of the TT Game Fishing Association that the rusting vessels seem to have been “left to rot in the Gulf of Paria,” Best yesterday told Newsday, “things have been happening but none of that would be evident simply by looking at the vessels in the Gulf.”

He said the owner has been on-time with his “Lay Up” fees, charged per tonne, and recently got approval from the Maritime Services Division to break up the vessels, using the services of Maritime Preservation Limited, a shipyard located in Port-of-Spain Harbour.

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