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