Monday 19 February, 2018

FFOS defends against public attacks: Uphold rule of law

Conservation group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) is defending against public attacks, saying that it is not against the Cumuto-to-Sangre Grande Highway extension, but against the destruction of the protected Aripo Savannas.

In a statement, the group said it is criticized based on misinformation and petty bias.

"Throughout its twenty years of advocacy for sustainable development which means economic development that is conducted without depletion of natural resources and meets the needs of present and future generations."

"From inception, FFOS have advocated for sustainable fisheries, never for a ban on fishing. FFOS took an action against BPtt because the Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) approval process was not fully complied with. FFOS never said it did not want natural gas transmission in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T)."

"FFOS took an action against seismic surveys, not because it did not want petroleum exploitation but because it simply wanted a proper measured environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the impact of high decibel sounds on marine ecosystems and adequate evaluation of fishery impact to be determined."

"In this highway action, FFOS have never said to stop the highway nor that we don’t want development for Toco or Tobago."

"What we have been advocating for is consistent with the preamble of the Environmental Management Act of 2000 (EM Act) which states that “the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is committed to developing a national strategy for sustainable development and to establish an effective regulatory regime which will protect, enhance, and conserve the environment."

"The National Environmental Policy (NEP) 2006 talks about sustainable development and says “environmental sustainability is a key objective of economic development planning” and that “The Policy therefore assures that economic development is not undermined by the unsustainable use of our environmental assets”. Yet many are quick to attack FFOS."

"This highway litigation for sustainable development conforms with the EM Act and the NEP and says that if you are going to build a highway next to a designated Environmentally Sensitive Area with Environmentally Sensitive Species, sustainable development requires you to properly assess the environmental consequences," the group said.

The group said in this case, one day before the Certificate of Environmental Clearance (approval) was issued, the EMA technical review team rejected the EIA and said that this CEC should not be issued.

FFOS said it relied upon on the scientific merit of the EMA technical review team and not an FFOS expert.

"There can be no sustainable development if the EIA is not properly assessed. That is all this matter is about."

"FFOS aim to protect the technical staff of the EMA who have given their scientific expert opinion in view of what would seem to be political interference with the planning and approval process."

"Further imagine this action is being taken and an officer of the EMA, the son of the Present Chairman, posting inflammatory and derogatory statements about a public interest community based organization involved in an environmental matter and publicly attacking the Judicial process. See picture below."

 

"Before citizens make uninformed, derogatory  statements they should be at least aware of the twenty years of FFOS advocacy against illegalities in quarrying, Beetham air pollution, backfilling in Carenage and throughout Trinidad and Tobago, mangrove degradation in Invaders Bay, Aripero and elsewhere."

Following an injunction which was granted last week in the High Court, work on the Churchill Roosevelt Highway extension from Cumuto to Sangre Grande was halted.

The matter will return to the courts on Monday January 22, 2018.