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Fisherfolk to highlight oil spill woes outside Parliament

By Cecily Asson Monday, August 11 2014

Expect noisy protest action outside the doors of the Parliament soon from stakeholders in the fishing industry to highlight the fact that the oil spills in the Gulf of Paria are wreaking havoc on their health and livelihood.

This was the warning from Bhadose Sooknanan, Vice President of the Claxton Bay Fisherfolk Association Saturday at an emergency meeting called to discuss the impact of the oil spills on fisherfolk and the industry.

The latest spill occurred two weeks ago in the Guaracara River near Petrotrin’s Pointe- a-Pierre oil refinery and like last December’s massive oil spill in waters off La Brea and environs, the impact on the income and health of those earning a livelihood from the sea and mangrove has been brought into focus once again.

Said Sooknanan:

“Our lives have been badly affected by what is happening. Mostly our fishing nets are affected. When you pick up the nets, you get the muddy oily substance. We not catching any fish these days.”

Many fishing boats, have stopped working because of poor catch, he said. “Last night boats went out and didn’t catch anything.”

Over 200 fishermen are registered with the Claxton Bay Fisherfolk Association.

“Whether you are a fish or shellfish vendor, everybody hurting right now because of what is going on in the Gulf of Paria and that is why persons who get their livelihood from the sea and the mangrove are now united,” said Sooknanan.

“We will take a large group up by the Waterfront and protest for the Government ministers to see that we are serious.We are more educated now and they must know that,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the oyster, crab and conch vendors yesterday, Asha Sylvan said she and her colleagues want to be able to work again, for they have not been able to do so since last December and also compensation payments have since been stopped.

“The oil has contaminated the mangrove and right now nothing is growing back,” Sylvan said. “It have nothing to harvest down there again.”

“They tell us to find another trade with the compensation we got but I tell them we born and grow up in this oyster thing and we don’t know anything else.

Petrotrin meanwhile said clean up work was continuing in Marabella while community outreach and medical activities continue.

The company, in a release yesterday, said it had distributed cleaning agents and information leaflets to impacted residents in the Marabella community following the recent slop oil leak at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.

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