The iron graveyard of derelict ships in the Gulf of Paria is increasing and fishermen are now calling on the Maritime Services Division to take immediate action.
The ships are visible from the shore and over 40 abandoned ships have been identified off the west coast of Trinidad.
The wreckage stretches from Cedros to Chaguaramas and although they are a haven for birds, the abandoned ships damage the environment with seepages of oil and fuel into the sea.
Fishermen David Seecharan said they were facing extensive damage because of the wrecks.
“People are mashing up their engines here and it not easy for us. We need some kind of lighted marker to show up where the wrecks are. Boat and engines are expensive and it not easy to face this kind of loss,” he said.
He added, “When the tide is low you can see the wrecks but when the tide is high you can’t see nothing. This is why we need some kind of lighted markers.”
Seecharan said reports have been made in the past by various fishing cooperatives.
“We fed up talking about this, plenty time we talk. Boats come here, they park up here, sink and remain in the sea, causing havoc. Sometimes we carry people out to fish and when we coming in we cannot even see the wrecks. These wrecks are causing havoc,” Seecharan said.
He noted that fishermen were already facing a loss of income because of COVID-19 and the damages caused by the wrecks were making it worse.
Meanwhile, chairman of the San Fernando Fishing Cooperative Salim Gool said over the past few years big companies employed in the oil and gas industry abandon their big tug boats.
“When the life of the tugboat has ended, they drop an anchor and leave the boat right there. After some years, the boat sinks and stays right there and it becomes a hazard for the fishermen,” he said.
According to the provisions of the Shipping Act, ships that are kept long term in T&T waters are expected to be well lit, maintained and manned and should not pose a hazard in terms of navigation.
The owners are mandated to abide by Section 334 of the Shipping Act to abide by these regulations or face the removal of the vessels. The Maritime Services Division is the body that is responsible for pollution caused by vessels, wrecks and abandoned ships but over the years little has been done to clear the west coast of these eyesores.