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Six months of seismic bombing?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cabinet has announced it will establish a multi-stakeholder committee to examine the concerns raised by fisher folk about the collapse of the fishery as an immediate result of the seismic bombings (which are not pulses, but are high decibel, shattering air gun explosions). The Right Honourable Prime Minister and her Cabinet are to be commended for promising to appoint an interdisciplinary  committee to examine the concerns raised by the fisher folk over the past 10+ years; but this is too little, too late. 


The Hon Devant Maharaj had promised the Secretary of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) in a meeting at his office on January 17, 2013, and in the presence of his technical staff and the Director of Fisheries, that a Committee would be appointed to advise Cabinet immediately. Today is November 7, ten months later, and all of our fisher folk communities are suffering while scarcity is causing fish prices to escalate.


Cabinet has not announced a moratorium on all future seismic surveys, applications of which are currently before the EMA. Cabinet has not announced the adoption of any best practice safeguards, as in the regulated surveys in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, etc. 


Regretfully, the Hon Minister Devant Maharaj is being misinformed. No fisher folk from the national body, Trinidad and Tobago United Fisher Folk (TUFF) or FFOS, have ever been consulted on any guideline or methodology for compensation. Did the energy sector, the EMA Chairman, the Fisheries Division and the IMA Chairman consult themselves? Madame Prime Minister, the concerns raised by the T&T fisher folk need to be addressed with greater urgency. 


Cabinet has not announced a submission timeframe for this committee, and yet Petrotrin has announced that even though it does not presently have a CEC for its planned six-month seismic bombing, that it will begin on December 1. We continue to appeal for your Government’s intervention to ensure good public administration for the little people whose livelihoods are being vandalised by billion-dollar Goliaths.



From four weeks to six months?
We continue to submit that:
1. The EMA are not observing the “precautionary principle.” 
2. The EMA are not considering the mounting research which has been done worldwide, some of which FFOS had provided free of charge.
3. The EMA are not considering that this Petrotrin survey is being planned for an extremely long duration (when normally most surveys have been four to six weeks long, this one is planned for six months.
4. This Petrotrin survey is planned for very shallow water where the impact is accelerated.
5. The EMA are ignoring the fisher folk’s data on collapsed catch rates for the same effort in the same location years after the seismic bombing in that location had stopped.



Get proper advice
We continue to appeal to the Hon Minister Devant Maharaj, and to our Prime Minister, to stop/postpone this bombing monster until the Government can be properly advised. The fisher folk declaration of October 2 properly describes our united position:
• That the EMA immediately adopt best practices for conducting seismic bombing within the marine areas of Trinidad and Tobago
• That the EMA require an Environmental Impact Assessment study prior to granting any Certificate of Environmental Clearance for conducting any seismic bombings, including current applications for the longest duration bombing ever, such as CEC No. 3956/2013, CEC No. 3957/2013 and CEC No. 3963/2013;
• That an immediate moratorium on future seismic bombings be established until and unless oil and gas companies agree to carry out Environmental Impact Assessments consistent with existing best practice; 
• That Certificates of Environmental Clearance be issued with terms and conditions that provide best practice procedures for seismic bombings, which include no seismic explosions in spawning or nursery areas, spawning times and on the migratory paths of fish; and
• That long-term studies be conducted by the Environmental Management Authority and the Institute of Marine Affairs to gather data on existing fish stock to guide terms and conditions of future Certificates of Environmental Clearance for all seismic bombings.
We will continue to mobilise our members against this inhumane and flagrant abuse as we appeal to the Government and the EMA to take a long hard look at our concerns.



Peter Gloden
President, Trinidad and 
Tobago United Fisher Folk 



Kishore Boodram
Vice President, Trinidad 
and Tobago United Fisher Folk



Dianne Christian-Simmons
President, Cocorite 
Fishing Association



Terrence Beddoe
President, FFOS



Gary Aboud
Secretary, FFOS.


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