EMA sticks to its position that fish were dumped for no market value

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - 14:30

The Environmental Management Authority is once again attempting to clarify the findings of tests conducted on dead fish found in the Gulf of Paria, saying, again, that the fish were mostly likely dumped be trawlers because they have no market value.

The EMA says there are justifiable reasons why Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons was detected in some types of fish but maintains that there was no evidence of COREXIT in fish or the water they tested.

The following is the EMA's statement"

"In light of continued concern expressed over the recent incidences of dead fish in the Gulf of Paria and resulting negative impact that it has had on stakeholders of the fishing industry, in particular those who make a living from fishing in the Gulf of Paria, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) reiterates the findings of the investigation into the matters as follows.

SEE ALSO: EMA: Some fish exposed to petroleum hydrocarbons

Based on feedback from all the relevant authorities with oversight on this matter, and further to a range of tests conducted on water, sediment and fish samples from the affected areas, CARIRI was only able to detect Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH) in catfish samples. The TPH level detected was considerably lower than that reported by Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) in a recent press conference. It should be noted that there is an absence of international standards regarding safe TPH levels in fish.

The TPH detected in the catfish samples are likely attributed to the fact that the species being a scavenger/bottom feeder, typically ingests larger quantities of TPH found in seabed sediment. Additionally, in the areas in question, namely La Brea and environs, there exists natural seepages of hydrocarbons in the nearshore environment which may have also contributed to the higher levels of TPH in the sediment and catfish.

The results of tests for parasitology, histopathology and for the compound COREXIT conducted on other fish species which included herring, salmon and sting ray were all negative. Tests on these species did not detect TPH.

There has also been much public discussion over the presence of the oil dispersant COREXIT, which has been purported to be one of the likely causes of the incidences of dead fish. Tests conducted by CARIRI on water, sediment and fish samples have ruled out COREXIT as being linked to the dead fish as no compounds matching COREXIT were found.

Initial findings from the investigation which included tests on water, sediment and fish samples have also been substantiated by interviews with fishermen and vendors from the affected areas which found that fish trawlers operating in the Gulf of Paria had engaged in the practice of discarding unwanted by-catch such as herring, mullet and catfish for which no market was available. In addition, feedback from field interviews revealed that fish by vendors who have been unable to sell fish owing to the drastic reduction in demand caused by concerns over the safety of fish also engaged in fish dumping on a daily basis which exacerbated the situation as dumped fish continued washing ashore along the southwest peninsula, and in particular along the coastline from Otaheite to La Brea.

The EMA reiterates that all test reports related to this matter are available at the authority’s Information Centre located at #8 Elizabeth Street, St. Clair, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays) between the hours of 8:30a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It should be noted that CARIRI was engaged by the EMA to carry out similar tests on samples of water, sediment, and fish as those conducted by CARIRI for FFOS.

The EMA intends to host a joint public consultation on August 28, 2016 with affected stakeholders to present the findings of the investigation, the methodology used by the IMA to investigate the incident and hear concerns of affected stakeholders. More details of the public consultation will be provided by the EMA in the coming days.

The EMA remains committed to working with all stakeholders in the early detection, reporting and investigation of potential environmental concerns. Members of the public are encouraged to continue accessing the authority’s Emergency Response Hotline via telephone numbers 680-9588 and 285-4362, or via email: [email protected]."

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