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Fishermen still want answers from Petrotrin
Still reeling from the effects of last December’s oil spill in the Gulf of Paria, Claxton Bay fishermen have written to Petrotrin president Khalid Hassanali calling for an immediate assessment of the polluted waters. Vice-president of the Claxton Bay Fishing Association, Bhadose Sooknanan, yesterday called on Petrotrin to visit the Claxton Bay fishing depot to get a first-hand view of the oil and sludge that they said have significantly depleted the fish stock. In the letter to Petrotrin’s board of directors, Sooknanan said although the Corexit 9500 dispersant dissolved the heavy crude floating on the waters, the remaining residue sank to the ocean bed and has spread throughout the entire gulf.
It added: “The Corexit dissolves the oil, yes, but the remaining residue sinks to the bottom of the sea and with the combination of the wind, tide and currents, it is contaminating and damaging our nets. “When we slacken our nets, instead of trapping fishes, we get an oily/slush/mud substance upon retrieval. “This prevents us from making our living because we fear our nets might be destroyed. At the moment, we the fishermen are being affected by this because it prevents us from earning an income to support our families.” Sookanan said that between January 31 and Sunday, one fisherman who went out to sea returned with oil in his nets instead of fish. He said they have photos of damaged nets and boats as evidence when a Petrotrin representative met with them.
He said since the oil spill, not only were La Brea and Cedros residents affected but fishermen in the entire gulf. “Marabella, San Fernando and Claxton Bay fishermen are also feeling the pinch, from the fishermen to the vendors to the consumers because fish is not selling. People don’t want to buy fish because they are saying it is from the gulf and that it is contaminated. The catch rate is already low. “It is not feasible to go to sea when you purchase $400 in fuel... buy ice and nets... it is not profitable. Ninety per cent of the fishermen in Claxton Bay are not working because they are afraid of the oil contaminating their boats and nets. “We are calling on Petrotrin to put their business in order and see what best they can do to help fishermen,” Sooknanan added.