Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 30th 2014 Contents A14
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt November 30, 2014
The future of Chief Secretary of
the Tobago House of Assembly
(THA), Orville London may very
well lie in the hands of the All Toba-
go Fisherfolk Association (ATFA).
So said the association s public
relations officer, Curtis Douglas dur-
ing an interview with the Sunday
Guardian at the Golden Thistle Hotel
in Tobago. Also present were ATFA
president Junior Quashie and fish-
erman Bill Mander.
On November 17, a Tobago High
Court judgment ruled in favour of
ATFA against the THA and BHP Bil-
liton over seismic surveys being car-
ried out in waters north of the sister
isle. That survey lasted for nine
months. ATFA was represented by
attorney Deborah Moore-Miggins
and Senior Counsel E Prescott rep-
resented the THA. The judgment
was handed down by Justice Ricky
Rahim. The matter commenced in
Quashie explained that because
of the seismic survey which was car-
ried out, the livelihood of about
1,400 fishermen suffered tremen-
"Before this survey was done,
there was supposed to be a series of
discussions with all parties but no
one spoke to us. From what we
understand, talks were held between
BHP Billiton and the THA and clear-
ance was given. We had no voice,
so we decided to take the matter to
the High Court."
Douglas added that about five
meetings were held between the oil
company and the THA unknowing
to them (ATFA). He said their "bone
of contention" was that no com-
pensation was given to the fishermen
during the survey period. He felt
that it should have been part of the
court s ruling.
Douglas explained that before the
survey fishermen, during an eight-
hour stint of fishing out in the seas,
yielded about 500 to 600 pounds
of fish at $20 per pound, "That is
fishermen would catch about 300
"Now, with the survey, on a good
day the yield is only about 300
pounds and on a bad day, about 180
"So when all that monies are cal-
culated we are losing by the thou-
sands of dollars a day, which is unfair
to us. So, why aren t we being prop-
erly and fairly compensated?"
Douglas said subsequent to the
ruling, they drafted a letter hoping
to have a meeting with London but
they are still waiting.
"Mr London now has a golden
opportunity to make right and do
right for the people of Tobago. He
must sit down and discuss the dam-
ages and hardship that they have
caused in the lives of the fishermen
and their families," Douglas said.
"If London don t meet with us he
could very well be history because
by the thousands they will refuse to
vote for him or support him in any
upcoming election," he added.
Attorney Deborah Moore-Miggins,
who successfully represented ATFA,
stressed on a major factor---a breach
of natural justice---which was high-
lighted by Justice Rahim.
"This is a serious and major factor
here. The THA needs to understand
that they are not an ordinary group
of people but a public body funded
by public funds. When you take
positions like that and don t consult
with the other sides it sets itself in
a position clearly that cannot be
filled in the principles of natural jus-
tice," Moore-Miggins said.
"When you do seismic surveys it
affects the livelihood and income of
the fishermen and also, it interferes
with fish life, spawning grounds
which are long-term concerns."
She, however, noted that this was
not the first time that the THA had
run into problems over seismic sur-
veys. She referred to several years
ago where Petro Canada had to pay
some compensation to fishermen.
Another company, Centrica, she said,
understood that the fishermen were
prepared to go to court and therefore
negotiated with the fishermen in a
respectable manner and paid them.
London comes under fire
...as High court rules in favour of Tobago
fisherfolk in BHP's seismic survey case
From left to right,
Mander, PRO of the
All Tobago Fisherfolk
Curtis Douglas and
THA Chief Secretary, Orville London.
It is a vital part of exploring for
oil and gas making it critical to
producing the energy needed.
Oil and gas explorers use
seismic surveys to produce
detailed images of the various
rock types and their location
beneath the Earth's surface and
they use this information to
determine the location and size
of oil and gas reservoirs.
Sound waves are bounced off
underground rock formations and
the waves that reflect back to
the surface are captured by
recording sensors. Analysing the
time the waves take to return
provides valuable information
about rock types and possible
gases or fluids in rock
formations. This is similar to the
use of ultrasound in medicine.
According to the
seismicsurvey.com.au Web site.
WHAT IS SEISMIC SURVEYING?
It is declared that the decision
taken by the Defendant (THA) to
endorse the document
"Framework for Identifying and
Communicating with the
Affected Users of BHP Billiton
2014 Deep Water Seismic Survey
Area" communicated by letter
dated November 15 2013 was
made in breach of principles of
natural justice and is null and
void with no effect.
• Centorari is granted to
remove this Honourable Court
and quash the decision.
• The Defendant is mandated
to withdraw the letter of
endorsement of November 15,
2013, in writing addressed to
BHPB and copied to EMA.
• The Defendant is mandated
to consider the representations
by the Claimant should the
Defendant embark on a fresh
process of deciding whether to
issue an endorsement.
• The Defendant is to pay to
the Claimant the costs of the
claim to be assessed by a
Registrar in default of agreement.
THE COURT RULED
"This is a serious and
major factor here. The
THA needs to
understand that they
are not an ordinary
group of people but a
public body funded by
public funds. When you
take positions like that
and don't consult with
the other sides it sets
itself in a position
clearly that cannot be
filled in the principles
of natural justice."
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