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Fishermen in north-west Trinidad are predicting a bleak future for T&T’s fish stocks as a result of the oil spill in the Gulf of Paria. Although their fishing grounds are several miles away from the location of the oil spills along the southwestern coastline, the fishermen say soon they too will be affected. Fishermen and vendors at the Cocorite Fishing Centre complained to the Sunday Guardian that the oil spill isn’t the only thing affecting the availability of fish. Another source of concern is ongoing seismic surveys.
Moan Ramtali said: “We can't get the fish when the oil is there . . . Since the oil spill it has slowed down. Before that it was a little more. We were holding a 50 to 100 pounds. After that everything stopped. It have nothing again.” Ramtali said although he was earning money it was “still kind of slow.” He said Government should compensate fishermen since they will be unable to fish for a while. He anticipated that fish prices will increase since less fish is being caught.
Jason Ali, a fish vendor for four years, said there has already been an increase in price of about $10, so that king fish, which used to cost $30 dollars is now going for $40. As a result, customers are buying cheaper fish such as cro cro which sells for approximately $15. “Fishermen are fairly challenged because we have to go far places. Fishermen not getting time to go out and when they go out they only holding two fish, three fish. It really affecting fishermen on the whole. It is really ridiculous,” Ali said.
The Cocorite fishermen said although they are not directly affected, the mangroves, which are breeding grounds for fish, have been affected, so that between the seismic survey and the oil spill, it would be a while before stocks are replenished. They warned of a dark future for fish consumers in T&T. At Alcan Bay, Chaguaramas, the story was no different. Fishermen there said king fish might soon cost as much as $100 a pound.
“This oil spill, it will be affecting our feed grounds,” said Russell de Peza who has been fishing at Alcan Bay for 15 years. “If a fisherman brought in about ten a day, you are now catching one or two,” he said. Affie Duncan, who has been fishing for more than 20 years, said once the beds have been destroyed it will be very difficult to catch fish. She said fishermen who used to earn approximately $60,000 per year will only make $20,000, if so much.
She said whatever little fishermen catch will have to be sold at high prices to earn the money for gas and other bills. “This year customers have to watch out. There aren’t any fish in the sea so whatever little we catch we have to sell it expensive to make back because we have bills and expenses like everyone else,” she said.