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Fisherfolk tell of ‘black Christmas’

Wants speedy compensation process
Monday, December 23, 2013

“Black Christmas.” That is how La Brea fishermen yesterday described their yuletide season while they watched helplessly as their oil-damaged boats and nets remained along Queen’s Beach, La Brea. The fishermen gathered around their make-shift Christmas tree caked in dried oil and decorated with oil stained ornaments, including a dead sea crab. They said the oil spill, which entered its sixth day, has left them depressed especially since they are unable to earn a living for their families.



“Christmas right now? La Brea fisherfolk having a black Christmas right now because of the spill. We cannot go out because (of the oil.) We does work extra hard around Christmas time to mind our family. We have family to see about some people have three, four children to see about and we need to buy toys,” lamented fisherman Mervyn King. King said the tree, which contained oil-stained coconuts and a broken bicycle as gifts, represented the desperate situation the fisherfolk are faced with for the yuletide season.


He said for the past five days Petrotrin has been mopping up the oil along the shore and fishermen are not being told when they would be compensated. King said he heard that they will be paid in three months time, but he said, that is not good enough. “It is hard time and our family will be down for the while. It is a sad thing we have to try and fix it. God is good so I just appealing to the people who in charge to at least hear our concerns and give us some kind of positive response to this situation,” King said.


Fisherman Inshan Hosein said fishermen are still counting their losses and there is nothing they can do. “We are vex. We are sad and we have no choice but to wait and hope that these people whosoever is responsible for this will acknowledge our feelings and our livelihood and come out and do something in a genuine way,” he said. Hosein said he is depending on his savings to take care of his family until Petrotrin pays them compensation.


Contractors and residents employed by Petrotrin were busy lining up oil booms to trap the oil and keep it from get back into the sea. Minister of Tourism Chandresh Sharma told reporters the fishermen have been communicated with and their needs must be attended to.


“We have to return them to normalcy in the shortest possible time, and in the time when they cannot go out and fish they will have expenses that they will have to meet. Whatsoever those expense are, the Government certainly will be looking at that because they will have families to take care of. We will make sure and Petrotrin as a corporate citizen will also be taking care of that,” he said. The minister added that what will make the situation more sad is if it is established that the spill has been an act that is man-made.


“It will be a horror story to think that in 2013 there are person or persons who may be engaged in such acts,” he added.


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