Fishermen want EMA to probe dead fish catch

Granville fish­er­men are call­ing on the En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Au­thor­i­ty to in­ves­ti­gate the tox­i­c­i­ty lev­els from the Gulf of Paria af­ter they no­ticed fish caught in their fish pots were turn­ing up dead.

With the red fish sea­son al­ready here, the fish­er­men say they were fac­ing loss­es and were find­ing it in­creas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult to sur­vive.

Cap­tain Wayne Pu­ra said they can bare­ly af­ford to buy fu­el for their pirogues, so many of them were try­ing to cap­i­talise on the red fish sea­son which lasts un­til March.

Hold­ing up the fish pots, Pu­ra claimed he had to dump 700 pounds of dead fish a few weeks ago.

“It was a dead catch. We be­lieve there are chem­i­cals in the wa­ter which kill the fish­es. This is the on­ly ex­pla­na­tion we have. For five months now we pulling up dead fish,” Pu­ra said.

He al­so said the fish­ing vil­lage in Granville no longer had prop­er fish­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

“They cut the elec­tric­i­ty from the shed. We have no place to re­pair our boats. No light­ing, no stor­age. The road cav­ing and we are very frus­trat­ed,” Pu­ra said.

An­oth­er fish­er­man Ezrol Mo­hammed said the red fish sea­son was sup­posed to be a lu­cra­tive time for the fish­er­folk.

He said since the fu­el prices in­creased the build­ing ma­te­ri­als to man­u­fac­ture the fish pots have al­so in­creased. The fish­er­men use rolls of six feet chick­en coop wire to build the fish pots. One roll of wire makes 50 pots which last for three months.

Mo­hammed said the fish­er­men jour­ney in­to the forests to get re­silient wood to make the fish pots.

An­oth­er fish­er­man Kis­han Bab­wah said two years ago a roll of chick­en coop wire cost $300.

“Now it cost us $600 a roll. We have no choice but to buy it be­cause now that we in the redfish sea­son we hop­ing that we could make a lit­tle mon­ey,” Bab­wah said.

How­ev­er, the fish­er­men said de­spite mak­ing an ex­pen­sive in­vest­ment, many times they have lost their pots to trawlers.

“They hook up our fish pots and go with it. We don’t get any com­pen­sa­tion or help. We have to start from scratch to make more pots,” Bab­wah said.

The fish­er­men called on the En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Au­thor­i­ty to con­duct tests on the pol­lut­ed wa­ters of the Gulf of Paria.

Res­i­dent Irvin Bab­wah said the en­tire fish­ing com­mu­ni­ty was be­ing de­stroyed be­cause of the pol­lu­tion. He al­so called on Agri­cul­ture, Land and Fish­eries, Min­is­ter Clarence Ramb­harat to reg­u­larise the trawl­ing in­dus­try so that it would not dis­rupt the lives of the Ce­dros fish­er­men.

Last April, Ramb­harat said the Min­istry planned to end un­reg­u­lat­ed trawl­ing. How­ev­er, in a What­sApp mes­sage yes­ter­day he said the Coast Guard is re­spon­si­ble for en­forc­ing the re­stric­tions on trawlers.

“Trawlers are re­strict­ed from com­ing in­to the nearshore ar­eas,” he said. He ad­vised the fish­er­folk to raise the mat­ter with the fish­eries of­fi­cer as­signed to their area or with the act­ing Di­rec­tor of Fish­eries Ner­is­sa Lucky.

Mean­while, chair­man of the EMA Nadra Nathai-Gyan said they have no re­ports of dead fish be­ing caught in the Gulf of Paria.

“No one has called in to say any­thing. It is some­thing that we have to in­ves­ti­gate. We will con­tact the fish­er­men and li­aise with the In­sti­tute of Ma­rine Af­fairs for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Nathai-Gyan said.

Reporter: Radhica De Silva

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