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Oil spill spreading north, says Aboud
The Gulf of Paria will become a toxic dead zone if thick crude is not vacuumed from the ocean floor before Petrotrin begins its underwater seismic surveys, president of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea Gary Aboud warned yesterday. Aboud made the claim as he accused Petrotrin of trying to cover up the magnitude of the massive oil spill which has wreaked havoc on plant, human and marine life along the south-western peninsula since December 21.
The 11 oil spills, some of which Petrotrin officials suspect are acts of sabotage, have started spreading to the Oropouche mangroves, Aboud said yesterday. He explained that fishermen as far as Cocorite have recently been picking up oil on their fishing spools.
Saying the oil slick was now moving northwards, Aboud called on Petrotrin to immediately stop all seismic surveys in the Gulf until all the oil is cleaned from the ocean floor. Explaining the movement of the tidal currents, Aboud said the water flows in a circular clockwise and anti-clockwise manner. “This is called a gyre. It appears now that oil is coming into Otaheite and also into the Oropouche mangroves,” he said.
A gyre in oceanography is any large system of rotating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movements. Aboud explained that on Old Year’s Night, seven fishermen from Cocorite reported that oil and tar caught on their spools while they were banking. “We knew this was going to happen,” he said.
“We are not trying to cause a panic, but when you are trawling, you have a net dragging at the bottom of the ocean. Trawling is also used when there is a line in water floating at a specific distance. Sometimes a fisherman will use a metal spool with a hook. This is called towing and many people who are towing say there is thick oil on the seabed.” He said the chemicals used by Petrotrin in the clean-up operations had caused the oil to sink.
“We have asked Petrotrin what kind of dispersant they are using and we are yet to get an answer. With the battering of the waves, the oil will coagulate and sink,” Aboud said. “It is will stifle marine life. The gulf could become a dead zone if they don’t clear the oil that has sunk.” He claimed that Petrotrin was starved of crude for its refinery and this was why the company was insisting that it wanted to begin its Ocean Bottom Cable (OBC) seismic survey.
He also said his team was keeping a close eye on the seismic ship to ensure that surveys are not executed. “If they attempt to do any seismic testing we will have to take whatever action is necessary to protect plant and marine life. Fishing is our livelihood,” Aboud said. Meanwhile, Petrotrin, in a statement, said there is no conclusive scientific evidence that the survey will have a negative impact on fisheries.
Petrotrin said the survey, which will be conducted in Petrotrin’s Trinmar and North Marine Areas in the Gulf of Paria, once started will continue for five months, with operations taking place continuously 24 hours per day. The oil company assured that the technology will utilise the discharge of compressed air to generate pulses for recording and no explosives will be used.