MultiClient Geophysical AS (MGC) of Norway yesterday denied that activity from its regional seismic survey around Tobago waters destroyed fishing aggregate devices (FADs) as is being claimed by fishermen.
The company has been conducting a 2D seismic survey off the Tobago Trough and surrounding areas with the MV Discoverer 2 and Shannon since December 5. The survey is expected to last three months.
“Initial review has revealed that position and timing of the lost FADs do not coincide with the vessel track,” MGC said via its local agent, GAC Energy and Marine Services Limited.
The company said vessels carrying out the seismic activity only reported seeing one fishing aggregate device and “altered course to ensure the FAD was avoided.”
President of the All Tobago Fisherfolk Association (ATFA) Junior Quashie claimed the company had “totally . . . destroyed fishermen’s earnings.”
In a widely shared Facebook post, he said: “People of Trinidad and Tobago... we are crying and taking our pressure . . . we have been totally destroyed now.”
He also claimed: “The oil companies ... have mashed us up fine, we ent getting nothing, we lost everything. We called the company and they are telling us that they can’t do nothing .”
Quashie claimed that the company is violating its agreement.
“In the day they are going outside (far from shore) and in the night they are passing five and six miles from land,” he said.
However, GAC said: “Claims regarding the vessel location, proximity to the coast, and inference malice and bad faith on the part of the survey operator are categorically denied.”
The company said navigational warnings were published in two local newspapers and the information was distributed to “all fishing areas” advising of the survey. In addition, a meeting was held on December 15 in Matelot, Toco and Blanchisseuse, after fishermen expressed concern about the survey.
“It was just clarified that Mr Quashie of Tobago was not a part of the meeting as he could not make it at the date/time. The meeting was held on Dec 15th 2018 at 1000hrs,” GAC said in an email.