Managing Director of Nanan’s Caroni Bird Sanctuary Tours, Allister Nanan sanitises the waiting area of his business, with his boats in the background ahead of the much anticipated resumption of tours at the Caroni Bird Sanctuary yesterday.

Directors of Nanan’s Caroni Bird Sanctuary Tours have joined the call for Government to intervene in the threat the damaged FSO Nabarima oil tanker in the Gulf of Paria poses to marine ecosystems like the Caroni Swamp, should the unthinkable happen and an oil spill occurs.

The call comes on the heels, of Corporate Secretary of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS), Gary Aboud’s most recent appeal for the Government to intervene in the matter quickly.

Last Friday Aboud breached Venezuelan waters to visit the ‘abandoned’ vessel, taking video footage and sharing them later to his social media page in the hope to prove the vessel carrying approximately 1.3 million barrel’s worth of crude oil, was being propped by worn-out anchor chains which could become detached at anytime

Lisa Nanan, one of the directors of the family-owned and operated Caroni Bird Sanctuary Tours which received a Government exemption on October 10 to resume tour activities, told Guardian Media in an email interview: “The mangrove ecosystem of the Caroni Bird Sanctuary and the coastal areas are at risk from such devastation given the precarious position of the FSO Nabarima.”

She explained Mangroves were essential to the ecology, ecosystems and the economy and they also acted as windbreakers or buffers to protect the coastal and inland areas from devastating storms and hurricanes.

According to Nanan, mangrove colonies also controlled sedimentation and reduced flooding.

If an oil spill should occur, she lamented, “Crude oil will be absorbed by the mangrove roots that would eventually cause these land builders to die. Mangrove regrowth takes decades so their destruction must be prevented.”

Nanan stated the marine animals, mammals, reptiles and over 180 species of birds would also be adversely affected by such a spillage of crude oil.

“Our National Bird, the Scarlet Ibis, protected by law will be in danger. Thousands of Scarlet Ibis feed, roost and nest at the Caroni Bird Sanctuary. They, as well as all the life forms in the sanctuary, must be protected from this imminent oil spillage,” Nanan contended.

Referring to the 1989 Exxon Valdez’ spill, one of the most environmentally disastrous spills in history to date, Nanan said if the same were to happen with the FSO Nabarima, it would be doubly catastrophic with the reported amounts of crude oil being five times greater than that of Exxon Valdez.

She said the livelihoods of many citizens and the economy of T&T also stood to be hard hit if this oil spillage occurred.

Apart from the destruction to T&T, Nanan added neighbouring Caribbean nations would also be affected.