I want to start this piece with that picture above of the poster that reiterates the laws about turtles and their eggs in this country. If you observe the poster well enough you'll see that the act was amended several times and is many decades old. In short, our laws as regards protection of leatherback turtles and their eggs are nothing new. Further you'd expect people like the Environmental Agency and the Ministry of the Environment to know these laws amd do their best to enforce them, yes? So as of now Joth and Ganga Singh, please move to the back of the class. And for the other members of the press release writing public please get ready to join them. The Caribbean Institute of Environmental Sustainability also weighed in on the matter insisting that foreign press was sensationalising the issue and that the excavation works was a good thing because it saved turtle eggs from fresh water inundation. Now let me pause to let you digest this. The area of the beach that was under threat from the river is the Western end.....the area dug up to protect beach front property was the eastern end. Now hear me out, it's a well known fact that there are more nests on the western beach front than the eastern beach front. And as i said earlier the area dug up on the eastern end is larger than the area that was under threat by the river. So it seems to me that the on-the-spot decision taken by the EMA, ministry of Environment and Local Govt was to sacrifice the eastern end of the beach to save the western end. The argument of fresh water inundation baffles me though. On a beach that's more than 2km in length the river and erosion was affecting about 400m of beach. Which means that nests and eggs in that area were already destroyed or under threat. So you come and destroy another 4-500m metres of beach in the opposite direction to save what was possibly already dead? What was clear to me as i walked the beach in Grande Riviere is that the excavation work done was done to benefit properties and humans, not the turtles. Greenleaf's protestations may have scientific and environmental relevance, but why wait for the height of the rainy season to re-direct a river to protect eggs from fresh water inundation and erosion that has been happening more than 6 weeks now? Why not re-direct during the dry season and before nesting starts to prevent it? It sounds to me like Greenleaf and his NGO singing for their supper and a handout....Can I have some more?
Work continues at the site, and on the far eastern end of the beach, covered by forest sits the machinery that is being used for the work. The entire eastern half of the beach is still covered in their tire tracks.
In talking to a few villagers that i have regular contact with in Grande Riviere they pointed out that tourism from leatherback turtles is how many villagers make a living seasonally. As the third largest nesting site in the world, and as a village that takes conservation seriously, they had manage to build up a good reputation internationally. The state's action in this matter wasnt a good thing. They fear that fewer turtles will nest here next year as a result of the disturbed nests and destroyed eggs. They fear too that there will also be fewer visitors for the rest of the season and an obvious drop in the incomes earned. A visit to the beach shows you immediatelt that it's not a few hundred eggs that have been destroyed. It's closer to tens of thousands. The mounds of sand on either side of the new river mouth are littered with eggshells. There are white specs everywhere and many corbeaux and dogs feasting away. One wonders why after 50 years we still cant plan for a rainy season. Is not like it catches us unawares.
In the midst of all their fears and the reality of what was done to the beach a few things stand out for me: * This government has no environmental policy. * This government does not know the meaning of the words planning or consultation. * This government does not uphold the laws of the land. * This government believes that PR and spin are actual policies for running a country and will deploy every well-placed stooge in every organisation and agency they have to support their missteps and mishaps. * This government is under developing Trinidad and Tobago while pretending otherwise. * This government is sinister and evil.
1. If the point of the excavation was to protect turtle eggs from fresh water inundation the state apparati were 6 weeks too late. 2. If the point of the excavation was to protect properties from coastal erosion the state apparati were 6 weeks too late. What happened this weekend was not and cannot be considered conservation. They were saving their asses...not eggs.
De Vice Cyah Done!