Today Alta continues with the Year in Review which was first presented to members of Alta at the annual general meeting earlier this month.
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Aboud: Oil spill spreads to Venezuela
The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Paria is believed to have spread to Patos Island, off the coast of Venezuela. This was revealed by president of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea Gary Aboud, who mounted a pre-dawn campaign to prevent Petrotrin’s 510km2 Ocean Bottom Cable (OBC) seismic survey, currently being done in the Gulf of Paria. Braving possible arrests, dozens of fishermen accompanied Aboud on his journey, saying it was the only way to protect their livelihood.
With the National Security helicopter hovering ahead, the fishermen left the Otaheite Bay shortly after sunrise and headed towards the Sanco Star seismic ship, stationed about six miles off the coast of Cap-de-Ville. They arrived around 8:25 am and were advised by Petrotrin police to stay off the seismic zone. The T&T Coast Guard and Air Guard also kept watch.
The fishermen circled the boats for several hours, and the Sanco Star seismic ship left the seismic area around noon. It is uncertain whether seismic surveys continued in the afternoon. Aboud said the seismic surveys should have been halted until Petrotrin removes all traces of oil from the seabed. “Day before yesterday, we got a report in Patos, off the coast of Venezuela, that there was oil there. Once the oil is submerged it is going to move. In the Gulf, the tides move in a circular motion so it is spreading to Venezuela,” Aboud said.
“We have serious concerns about the health of the fisheries and the long term viability of fishing in the Gulf of Paria as a whole. This raises a very serious concern about the liability of Petrotrin to the nation.”
“We have sent formal correspondence to the President which has not yet arrived. This oil spill is a national issue and one which requires the most urgent attention, especially for the victims of La Brea,” Aboud revealed. Efforts to contact Venezuelan Ambassador Maria Eugenia Marcano Casado proved futile as calls to the office went unanswered. Aboud told the fishermen that Petrotrin’s actions were illegal.
“The seismic ship is operating outside of the law. The EMA has created certain criteria before Petrotrin could begin the survey and they have not complied. The EMA is allowing an illegality to occur. They are criminalising the fisheries. Instead of cleaning up the spill and sending down divers to locate the submerged oil, they are contaminating our food basket,” Aboud declared.
Where is Patos Island?
Patos Island is a small uninhabited island in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. The island is a part of the Federal Dependencies of Venezuela. It is located about 250 km (160 mi) northeast of Caracas in the Golfo de Paria (Gulf of Paria). It lies in the Boca Grande strait of the Bocas del Dragón (Dragon's Mouth), approximately 4 km off the coast of mainland Venezuela and about 10 km west-south-west of Chacachacare.
The uninhabited island has an area of only 0.65 square km (0,25 square miles) with a length of 1.1 km (0.68 mi) and 6 km (3.7 mi) wide with the highest point reaching about 100 meters.