Thousands of dead fish wash up on La Brea beach

Thousands of dead fishes are continuing to wash ashore on the beaches of La Brea, prompting speculation that the fishes are being dumped as a ploy to bring down fish sales.

The fishes were first spotted on Monday at Carat Shed Beach but as the week progressed they began washing up at Point Sable beach.

President of the La Brea Fisherfolk Association Alvin La Borde said most of the fishes were herrings, sardines, and mullet. He said the fishes appear to have been dumped as most of them were already past the point of decay.

"The heads and bellies are rotten and while we have one or two fresh fishes coming in, the majority appears to be in a state of decomposition," La Borde said.

He added that the fish-kill was troubling to fisherfolk who were now worried that their sales would dip in the next week.

"What is mysterious about this is it has been happening around this time every year since 2013 when we had that great oil spill. They have a lot of offshore projects planned for the Gulf of Paria and we want to believe that someone is deliberately dumping fish so there will be low records of fish sales so when the issue of compensation arises they will use the data recorded with the lowest fish sales," La Borde added.

He called on the public not to let the fish kill affect their fish purchases.

Asked whether he believed trawler operators were responsible for dumping the fishes caught in their nets, La Borde said, "I don't want to speculate who is doing this. The waters of the Gulf are used in the Point Fortin desalination plant and authorities have said nothing is wrong with the water. The EMA has a report of this and we have contacted the Institute of Marine Affairs but nobody has responded so far."

He said hundreds of boat owners, fishermen, vendors and their families will suffer because of the fish-kill.

He also called on the government to take new samples to determine whether fish is safe to eat. La Borde also called on the Siparia Regional Corporation to assist the residents in cleaning up the beaches saying every day thousands of fishes were washing up.

Contacted yesterday managing director of the EMA Hayden Romano said EMA teams have been to the beaches but were having difficulties in getting samples because none of the fishes were fresh.

"The fishes are so decomposed that it makes no sense taking a sample. We won't get anything from it. This points to the possibility that this could be by-catch which people are dumping overboard. Big vessels and trawlers are picking up these fishes but there is no market for it so they are dumping it overboard. It is a chicken and egg situation," Romano said.

He added that National Fisheries was doing some work with the trawlers so that systems can be put in place to ensure there is less by-catch with the use of bigger spaced nets.  Romano said the EMA is continuing to monitor the situation.

Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Radhica De Silva) Photo by Kristian De Silva.

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