Fishermen not happy about media reports of bones found in Sea Lots

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

– File photo

Members of the Sea Lots Fisher Folks Association of Sea Lots are dissatisfied with reports on the discovery of bones in an area called Dog Island, which is in a mangrove off Production Drive.

Speaking with Newsday at the Production Avenue Fish Market behind the Beetham Community Centre, fisherman Jelani Mitchell said there are many ways a body could have got trapped in the mangroves, and slammed reports that suggested it is a burial site.

“When it floods, the St Ann’s River and others flow into the sea here. There is always somebody falling into or jumping into the sea from the waterfront. Bodies can easily be washed down and get trapped in the mangroves.”

He said fishermen and other market workers are usually out at around 2 am preparing for the market’s 4 am opening, saying it is highly impossible for anyone to carry a body to the mangroves without being seen.

“There are always people working here at the market; we are fishermen, and we are always out at sea. When I heard the news saying Dog Island, that shocked me, because it is an old name only old people use.”

Mitchell, a Sea Lots resident himself, said the area is already stigmatised by the general public and the press surrounding the bones will negatively affect the market.

“Media came here and took pictures when no bones were found here, it is higher up and in the mangrove.

“This gives the impression that there are illegal things taking place at the market, but that is not the case. Anyone can come and be safe. There are so many ways those bones could have ended up there. The media have a responsibility when they are reporting.”

Another fisherman, who did not wish to be identified, said, “They found the skull in a tree. That had to be a body that was trapped in floodwater and was washed down.

“We are not some barbaric people who climb trees and hang heads.”

He said despite the media attention and discovery, it did not slow business down and the market continues to see the same influx of customers.

“Why don’t they report that we need a gas station here, that the one we had, they closed it down, and now we have to go elsewhere to get diesel?”

The Beetham resident said he hopes police are able to identify the remains if they are human. He said while he understands why the area receives negative coverage, not every occasion calls for it, and he hopes the media highlight the area when there are good things happening.

He echoed Mitchell’s statements, saying the market is safe and the people are hardworking.

“Pass through on a Saturday – you could get fish broth, roast fish – it’s all love in the back.”

On February 29, police found several bones and what appeared to be a human skull in the mangrove around 3.30 pm. The bones were found strewn on the ground and the skull was hanging from a tree, with holes in it that resembled bullet holes.

Police from the Guard and Emergency branch, along with the Homicide Bureau of Investigations and the Special Investigations Unit, visited. They left as the sun began to set and the area was poorly lit and the tides changing. They returned on Friday morning.

Officials have yet to confirm whether the bones are human.