The seismic surveys which have been conducted in spawning areas, during spawning times, and along migratory paths of all marine species are having a continuous negative effect on commercial catch rates. Our experience is supported by scientific data overseas, but regretfully there are few studies done in our water.We have never said to stop the seismic explosions, but have asked for the same safeguards which are standard in most areas of the world, including Venezuela, Surinam, Norway, Australia, and Canada.
We have written to the Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (based in Belize) with the hope that we can sensitise stakeholders regionally.Here is an excerpt of our letter:
"We understand that the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism was established by Caricom to promote the sustainable use of fisheries by developing, managing, and conserving these resources in collaboration with stakeholders to benefit the people of the Caribbean. We are seeking your advice, any data relevant you may have, and any suggestions on how regulation might be possible at a regional level, especially since here, our Government refuses to require Environmental Impact Assessments which would be a norm in most nations. We are guided by regulations elsewhere where seismic surveys are prohibited during spawning times, prohibited at spawning areas, nursery areas, or on migratory paths.
"By failing to require EIAs our Environmental Management Authority prevents those carrying out seismic surveys from having to collect essential baseline data before starting the surveys, during the surveys, and after they have been completed.
"Based on studies we have summarised in our working paper 'The environmental impact of offshore seismic surveys' (on our website, ffostt.com), we are convinced that the seismic surveys are directly responsible for displacement of spawning shoals and a resulting long term collapse of catch rates....By all indications there has been a major collapse in T&T fisheries that is so far not being formally acknowledged.
"Based on the logic that spawning shoals are migratory, FFOS are concerned that migratory fish that move throughout the Caribbean are being negatively affected by what the oil/gas sector is doing here in Trinidad. We need to build a database on where, when and what the impacts of these surveys are."
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea