FSO Nabarima. (Image courtesy Gary Aboud / FFOS)
BOBIE-LEE DIXON
([email protected])

Directors at Nanan’s Caroni Bird Sanctuary Tours, are advocating for the protection and conservation of the environment—particularly the Caroni Swamp and the Bird Sanctuary—as they call on the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to assess the FSO Nabarima’s threat with haste.

They also warn that many livelihoods, and the economy of T&T would be threatened as well, if action is not taken soon. They point to past history, which has proven how devastating an oil spill could be to the natural habitat of all marine macro and microorganisms as well as the birds that feed and settle on the sea as well as the effect it takes on water quality and the damage to coastal vegetation

Their call comes in the wake of several appeals made by various groups including the Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS), led by Gary Aboud, who made the earliest plea to the Government to intervene and assess the state of the vessel, said to be in a poor condition and carrying approximately 1.3 million barrel’s worth of crude oil.

They say if a spillage happened, it would be even more devastating than that of the 1989 Exxon Valdez’ spill, one of the most environmentally disastrous spills in history to date.

FFOS urges Government get proactive before disaster strikes

Meanwhile, FFOS is urging that the Government team tasked with assessing the full extent of the Nabarima’s threat, must conduct a comprehensive assessment.

“It is critical that our Government’s mission tomorrow be transparent with photo and video evidence to the population of Trinidad and Tobago,” FFOS states in a release issued today.

“FFOS urges the Institute of Marine Affairs, who will be on this excursion to perform a fingerprint analysis on the oil, so that in the event of a spill, we would know whether the oil came from the FSO Nabarima,” the group says.

It adds: “We also urge our Minister of Foreign Affairs to consider the placement of someone with expertise in ship maintenance and repair onto this team of experts to ensure that a proper understanding of the vessel’s state is obtained and possible permanent solutions are advised.”

Over the past two months, the environmental lobby as appealed to the Rowley Administration to move swiftly on the Nabarima situation, warning that a spill could “potentially cause a major environmental genocide in our Gulf of Paria which will destroy our Caribbean tourism product”. 

It also has repeatedly called for the following:

●  The assembly of an independent team of experts to verify and make public the vessel’s status, to propose a method of safely removing the 1.3 million barrels of oil stored within and to advise of permanent repairs which are immediately required.

●  A unified Latin America and CARICOM effort to develop and implement a Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan that will address situations like this, which are inevitable due to the increase in oil exploration and extraction in the Region such as Guyana, Barbados and Bahamas.