Fisherfolk counting losses after oil spill

July 21, 2017
Novelette Mighty, president of the Greenwich Town Fisherfolk group, speaks about the impact of the oil spill on their business.
Rupert Johnson (top) and George Wilson, show how the oil has damaged their nets.
Fishermen try to contain the spread of the oil spill yesterday.

The fisherfolk at the Greenwich Town fishing beach spent most of yesterday assessing the damage of the oil spill from the Petrojam oil refinery, which occurred on Wednesday.

THE WEEKEND STAR visited the area, where the stench of oil was, at times, too strong to inhale.

Fishermen and residents were trying their best to clean away the contamination, as some of their property came in contact with the oil spill.

Fisherman Rupert Johnson said, "It nasty up we boat and clothes and dem ting deh. It nuh really do nothing to the fishing yet cause a way outside deh so we go fish, but the oil come in."

George Wilson, a fisherman of over 20 years said, "The net deh pon di land a mend and it (oil) come in come nasty up the net. A we source a income this enuh. The oil run weh the fish dem."

He acknowledged that Petrojam assisted to contain the spillage, however, residents said the damage is already done.

"This morning dem start tek action towards it, when it done nasty we up from last night. Around 4 p.m. (Wednesday), it get weh. We was going out to sea and the coast guard turn we back seh we must not go out. We nuh really have no fish ya now. It lame up the thing," Johnson said.




President of the Greenwich Town fisherfolk group Novelette Mighty said there have been bigger oil spills and they have a good relationship with Petrojam.

"The current takes the oil back to the regular fishing grounds dem, so that is where you see a lot of nets damaged. The tide changes, so the wind will carry it into the fishing beach. Most of it (oil) coming back to land, so you have a lot of boats that really grease up," she said.

Mighty picked up a few of the nets to show the damage. She said the nets will have to be replaced and the fishermen compensated. She added that a net can cost up to a J$1 million.

"See the mender man deh. It cost all $4,000 a day to mend a net. It probably takes two weeks to build a complete net. You have to buy the cork dem and all those things. The oil make the net dem rotten and crystallise. Once fish smell it, dem retreat," Mighty said.

She said Petrojam has promised "to deal with us".

THE WEEKEND STAR tried to speak with head of Petrojam's public relations, Latoya Pennant. However, several calls to her cell phone went to voicemail.

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