EDITOR: The Laws of Trinidad and Tobago have been broken by the open removal of Mangrove forests on the Mucurapo foreshore next to the car park where the City Corporation park their trucks. Why has the Mayor or the CEO of the City Corporation not yet been arrested and charged or fired for incompetence and mismanagement? Are the 40 dedicated Environmental Police a few blocks away at the EMA offices in St Clair aware?
Even a single branch of a single mangrove tree, whether virgin or secondary, is protected in the Environment Management Act 2000. Removing mangroves without EMA mitigation measures is against the Laws of this Nation. Do public interest bodies like Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) have to haul the EMA before its own environment court every time the EMA does not uphold its own Law? Would it not be cheaper to do the right thing when, after all, it is the Law?
FFOS has been to court with our EMA on almost a dozen occasions, and each time, it is always the same. The EMA refuses or is slow to implement the Law which clearly guides their existence. Put simply, they turn a blind eye and continue to lose the respect of a discerning public while they preside over the destruction of our natural capital inventory.
Professor Kenny is reported to have said that the impact would be minimal, but is it then reasonable, as Prof Kenny’s statement suggests, that a child, protected by Law, but orphaned, malnourished, poor, meagre, dehydrated and partially abused already, could be chopped down, since the “impact is minimal”? Is it not more intelligent to insist that nourishment, care and protection be offered so that health can be returned? One tree today, ten trees next week, ten acres after that, then a hundred acres in Claxton Bay – the effect of deforestation is cumulative and whether you have a Bazooka, a cannon or a trap gun, guns are illegal and mangroves are supposed to be protected according to Law. Scientists, like CEO’s and Mayors, have a duty to uphold and respect the Law, whether the victim is healthy or abused.
When a single Law is flouted, and Government authorities turn a blind eye or pretend not to see, it weakens the power of every other Law in even the remotest part of our country. Without respect for Law and Order, we will reap a whirlwind of crime. Is this not obvious?
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, FFOS.