Fishermen and Friends of the Seat secretary Gary Aboud yesterday chatting with the Nabarima vessel in the background with its anchor chain straining. Aboud and a few members visited the site yesterday to get proof the Nabartima was tilting in the water of the Gulf of Paria.

The group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) is laying blame for the FSO Nabarima issue squarely on the feet of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

The vessel, which is in Venezuelan waters off the Gulf of Paria, is said to be tilting with 1.3 million barrels of oil on board.

The matter was raised to this government by FFOS in August 2019 but according to the corporate secretary of the group, Gary Aboud, no response was received.

Now with fears of a major oil spill which will impact significantly on this country, the government got permission and sent a team out yesterday to investigate the boat, after weeks of being blocked by the Venezuelan government.

But speaking on CNC3’s The Morning Brew yesterday, Aboud said it took too long for the government to take action and as head, Dr Rowley must take the blame for the many delays.

“Our Prime Minister should have been assertive and proactive to protect our people, he didn’t and although I am a supporter of every prime minister of our nation, this time, in this instance, this Prime Minister has failed our nation,” Aboud said.

He pointed to a meeting held in this country earlier this year with Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez.

“We cannot deny that we have a good relationship with Venezuela.”

Aboud said it is in this regard the PM should have sought a meeting at the very top in Venezuela to allow this country access to investigate the vessel.

He said this country should have also explored all legal options.

“Many people think that we have some sort of political agenda; we don’t, our agenda has been the agenda of the communities with and without a voice,” he added.

Aboud said it is these very communities, as well as many others regionally, are in danger of being severely impacted in the event of an oil spill of this magnitude.

This is why he feels that CARICOM should intervene as well by the current chairman calling an emergency meeting of member countries.

“We need to have some sort of particular emergency response for us to share resources and to respond as a single unit and as a single people to a common threat.”

Aboud is also sceptical about the team which was sent to investigate the vessel.

“We don’t know what is the terms of reference for the officers who are being sent in, who will they report to? What are their technical capacities? Are there any international observers?”

He said given the gravity of the situation the government must make this information public.

The FSO Nabarima is a floating storage and offloading vessel that is permanently moored offshore of Venezuela at the Corocoro Oil Field in the Gulf of Paria, located between Venezuela and Trinidad.

After production at Corocoro ceased in 2019 following United States sanctions on the Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), Nabarima fell into a state of disrepair.