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Vendors call for compensation
The oil spill in the Gulf of Paria has caused a shortage of fish and as a result prices are increasing. At Kings Wharf yesterday, where fish vendors complained that they were not getting their regular supply, carite and kingfish were being sold for $50 a pound, while salmon and shark sold for $30 and $20 per pound respectively.
Fish vendor Jacklyn Fraser said she usually received 200 pounds of fish per day. Pointing to an almost empty crate, she said: “All I got today was 50 pounds and it really hard to sell because people not buying fish because of the oil spill. “We are frustrated because we losing money. Government giving La Brea residents meals, medical aid, compensation but we have not received a cent.”
President of the San Fernando Fishing Cooperative Salim Gool told the Sunday Guardian more than 150 fishermen were affected by the oil spill and have been forced to seek alternative ways to earn a living. The impact of the oil spill on the fishing industry could be seen at Otaheite Fishing Bay. There were very few customers at usually bustling fish market yesterday and ozens of pirogues lined the shore which was littered with the carcasses of birds, fishes and crabs.
“This market is usually filled with people but nobody buying fish because they afraid of the oil,” fish vendor Suresh Seepersad said. Pointing to huge crates filled with fish fillets, Seepersad said vendors are now salting the unsold fish to prevent them from spoiling. “We have about 3,000 pounds of fishes here valued over $20,000 that is going to waste. People just not coming to buy and we losing money,” he complained
Michael Ramnath, president of the Otaheite Fishing Cooperative, said Petrotrin had promised to pay $1,200 a day in compensation to the 85 Otaheite boat owners affected by the oil spill but nothing for the vendors. He wants officials of the state-owned energy company to meet with crab catchers and vendors to discuss compensation.
Petrotrin’s corporate communications manager Gillian Friday said investigations are continuing into the cause of the oil spills. Samples have been sent to Houston, Texas, but it may take another week and a half before results are available. With regard to assisting people affected by the spill, Friday said: “Petrotrin is extremely sensitive to, and supportive of, its fence-line communities, the residents in those communities and to the environment, inclusive of flora, fauna and aquatic life.”
Friday said Petrotrin “will do nothing to compromise the obligations it has and will continue to operate responsibly and prudently.”