UNC: Is it safe to fish in Tobago?

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A drone photo taken on February 8 shows the extent of the damage caused to the coast of Scarborough, Tobago. – Photo by Dayreon Mitchell

THE OPPOSITION wants to know if the waters off Tobago are safe to fish.

The question was posed by Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram on February 18.

Ratiram, the UNC’s shadow minister of agriculture, asked if any testing was done to determine if it was safe to fish in Tobago waters due to the oil spill caused by a capsized barge, later identified as the Gulfstream, which was found lodged on a reef near Cove, Tobago on February 7.

“We need to hear this information from the government. And if testing was done, what were the results of these tests? Testing not only of where the spill occurred and where the drift occurred but testing of surrounding waters needs to be carried out as well to determine if it has been contaminated in any form beyond the obvious visible hydrocarbon.

“Contamination in an oil spill is not only what can be visibly seen through staining, but crude oil is made up of hydrocarbon and other compounds, so it can have chemicals in the waters that are not visible.”

Ratiram asked if the chemistry, food and drugs division of the Ministry of Health was involved in testing on the island.

He said boats from Scarborough to Black Rock were grounded and fishermen and their families would be affected. Ratiram also said there was silence from the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries.

“This government clearly lacks empathy. We are calling upon this government, we are calling upon the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries to institute a compassionate grant for the fisher folks of Tobago.”