FFOS and all fishery stakeholders are celebrating and dancing in joy throughout T&T today.Minister Devant Maharaj must be loudly applauded for his courage and vision in banning the powerful and well-connected lobby of the Industrial Shrimp trawlers (Types III and IV), and introducing a closed season during breeding times for artisanal trawlers (Type I, and II) as reported in the press.
This move is long overdue and has brought tears of relief to many of us who have witnessed the devastation caused to our livelihoods and our bio-diversity over the past three decades by misguided directors of fisheries.On behalf of all right-thinking fishers and citizens, FFOS unreservedly and wholeheartedly congratulates Minister Devant Maharaj.
The good minister must be mindful of the many challenges ahead including the widespread discontent endorsed by scientific papers on seismic surveys which show that they result in displacement of fishermen and fish populations and negatively impact spawning species during the survey which will ultimately result in reduced catch for the fisherfolk for an unknown period of time.
Physical damage is also reported for smaller fish and fish with swimming bladders. Impacts were also seen on the egg and larvae stages of fishes. The long-term effect is destroying our members' livelihood.
Disturbance and displacement of spawning fish from their spawning areas will have an effect on the future fish population.In the past, recommendations were made (Dalen et al. 1996) which include seismic shooting being at a minimum of 50 km from spawning grounds or migratory paths. What are we waiting for?
It is reasonable to expect that our fish will react the same as Canadian or Brazilian fish. There is therefore no need to duplicate prohibitively expensive studies done elsewhere.T&T require the same best practice which Canada and the USA have adopted. Anything short of that will be discriminating.Please Minister Maharaj, do not let us fight for 20 more years before seismic surveys are properly regulated. We cannot fiddle while our fishery is vandalised.