A Looming Maritime Disaster

By Stephen Kangal
September 10, 2008

Trinidad and TobagoCitizens of T&T must now awake. Let us discard our politically partisan lenses with which we have viewed and assessed the recent conduct of governance by PM Manning. We must demand immediate answers from him on what is going on with the defence of the integrity and continuing ownership of our abundant, rich-yielding maritime patrimony from the creeping encroachment of Barbados.

On the basis of the 2006 Judgment Barbados succeeded and exulted in shelf-locking and zone-locking T&T with no potential legitimate claim to the rich hydrocarbon-bearing areas of the extended continental shelf of the Atlantic Ocean. Yet former AG Jeremie indicated to the Senate that we won; that the Court gave T&T a maritime boundary claim to the extended continental shelf (ECS) beyond 200 miles as well as a high seas corridor. Then what is the difficulty and delay today?

In 1 June this year Barbados released a map showing international bids for off-shore oil and gas acreages and blocks that completely hemmed in and restricted T&T exclusively to the areas West of the boundary. The two above-mentioned claims of the former AG Jeremie have been proved to be false and misleading. T&T does not and cannot protest against Bridgetown on their hydrocarbon leases. Where are the corridor and the ECS boundary that the Court awarded?

On 8 August Barbados submitted a claim for a Southern Area for an ECS to the 22nd Session of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). The CLCS will have decided and recommended on the technical merit of the Barbados application on 8 September 2008.

In reply Foreign Minister Gopee-Scoon does not object to the areas claimed but admits that both States will be making overlapping and identical ECS claims. T&T that has been brainstorming its own ECS submission for over year but according to Foreign Minister Gopee-Scoon will be taking till May ’09 to submit its own while the CLCS decided on the Barbados application without the benefit of the counter-claim information of the T&T application.

The probing questions that the Manning Administration must now answer to civic society on this looming maritime disaster after two and a half-year of spin are whether:

— The Tribunal ruled in favour of T&T and accorded both a high seas access corridor as well as an ECS maritime boundary located beyond 200 miles as claimed by former Ag Jeremie?

— Can the published map showing the 1 June maritime acreages and oil leases of Barbados allow and facilitate the two claims mentioned above to be realized and to be considered truthful?

–Why should Barbados have consulted T&T prior to submitting its 8 August ECS application to the CLCS even though it consulted Suriname and French Guyana?

— Should not T&T have submitted its own ECS claim to the current session of the CLCS so that it can be considered at the same time as that of Barbados seeing the same maritime areas are being claimed by both?

— After the CLCS decided on the Barbados application this September will it be forced to give back ECS areas to T&T in post-May 2009?

Methinks not.

Barbados Map of Blocks
Barbados Map of Blocks
VENEZUELA says the two blocks named at bottom are in its waters

10 Responses to “A Looming Maritime Disaster”

  • HAHAHA….we like it so…thats what the racial politics is doing to us.

  • This as usual is quite an excellent and informative article Mr. K. It’s a pity we cannot get more of the populace to show some concern for such a critical issue as this. Unfortunately too many are fixated on upcoming festivals, and political jousting and saber rattling and other political shenanigans of the two major political parties hell-bent on misleading them into the next millennium.
    Keep up the good work in trying to have this intelligent discourse aimed at edifying the masses.

  • Neal
    Thanks! Just when I was thinking that I was not capable of writing anything to excite readers you have lifted my spirits and restored my self-confidence.
    T&T must call for the issue of a comprehensive statement from Minister Gopee-Scoon. They are not telling us the truth that we have to confront very soon. The brutal and damaging truth is being postponed.

  • You are welcome Mr. K. Do not dispair at the few lobs that might occasionally come your way by some of us new bloggers as we attempt to grasp the direction you are heading , while we also try to find our way in the convoluted morass called T&T politics .
    This however is the way that caring progressive in the global village do it you might agree.Let’s keep our respective goals in sight and always recognize that differences in opinions and interest would exist. Keep that flag flying ,and continue to demand accountability from our leaders.

  • I can certainly give a Bajan position on this. I remember when the decision was announced in B’dos by the then AG Mia Motley and her legal team. In very, very great detail the ruling was outlined, by her and the respective lawyers. Any person who took the time to READ it, would see categorically that T&T lost its bid, except as it related to the issue of fishing rights, which (trust me) was always a non-issue. Then I heard that T&T’s AG said T&T had won!! And what did our lawyers say? If they think they won, fine, let them think they won, that way, everyone’s happy! Like I said, simply READ the contents of the tribunal’s ruling. Do you really think the B’dos government would be selling off blocks if they didn’t have the legal right to do so?

  • It is said that ” Monkey knows which tree to climb.” It would be nice to see the Bajans try to pick and oil and gas fight with the Venezuelians . I won’t hold my breath on that one. The fact of the matter is that Trinidians have always been regarded as a bunch of egotistical idiots by most of their Caribbean counterparts – especially Barbados closely followed by Jamaica. This is not the first time they’ve attempted to play on the kindness of our good people in an effort to elevate themselves from obscurity in an economy that is totally dependent on tenuous tourism. How many of you can remember the Cement factory bandit deal that the ‘extreamly intelligent’ George Chambers allowed Barbados to inveigle from us- thus saturating the market and finally drive the nail in coffin of our industry.

  • Trinidad and more so Barbados governments are “tools” of the USA’s foreign policy, this is where the “Hush Hush”confusion lies, both governments are aware of the giveaway, both are involved. It is so because the US, through its oil companies, will be digging for oil in Barbados, and needs to limit or keep in check Trinidad’s power in the caribbean so “they” can better control and maximize it’s profits. It already completely controls Barbados’s economy! so it will use her waters to create new maritime boundries to serve their purpose.

    We have to rid ourselves of these corrupt leaders and their masters along with their form of government in order to be free of all this deception. Plain and simple

    One Caribbean.

  • From a practical standpoint, what exactly do you propose Mr. NBL as a better form of government, and how can our long suffering people finally get rid of their “corrupt leaders,” and “their masters,” as you so aptly described them? Should we strangle them all as they sleep at night in their various million dollar manshions and place their bloated bodies on several Mouraga local fishermen boats ,and have them drift away to Caracas, or do we continue to depend on the many naive foreign educated nationals to return home like former leaders as Dr. Eric Williams as well as Basdeo Panday did, and now Bas upstart daughter Mickela was encouraged to do in true neo-colonialist South Asian dynastic fashion?

  • You raised a good point Neal. To That i will say that those of us who have been exposed to “reality” being on the outside looking in after having been inside. Must make their contribution to the freeing of T&T from these corrupt exploiters. It has always been so through out history as you rightly pointed out.

    What is needed is a TTUF (Trinidad & Tobago United Front) a party of non-sectarian “progressive” elements, combining the unions, party’s of similar orientation, youth organizations, Women’s organizations, cultural organizations, the PSA and the progressive elements of the public and private sector etc. All formed into a coalition that will smash the western neo liberal multi party petty politics of T&T.

    One that will have a program that reads like this:

    We seek to impliment a wide range of much needed social reforms desperatly lacking in T&T

    1) The building of a new state hospitals in 5 regions of the country (South, West, East, North, Central). A project that will be at the top of the agenda for this government, It will begin as soon as we are in office. The projected completion being 2016. It will include training of hundreds of medical personal to meet the nations needs, by a program of cross training and consultation with our regional sister Cuba and our international one’s such as Canada, utilizing UTT and our partners respective houses of academia.

    The major hospitals to be constructed in port of spain (To replace the general hospital) and Central.
    Tobago: (The completion of the Scarbarogh General Hospital)
    And where as these will be specialized hospitals and will also serve the dual purpose of training as well,
    The remaining regions will have hospitals of a lesser but no more important responsibility.
    The back bone of this project will be the building and staffing of medical community centers across every impovrished sector of T&T to be staffed by those trained in the program. Tobago having centers in Castara, Goodwood, Charlotville and Bucco.
    Thus creating a role for the “New Doctor”, Nurses and medical staff in the nation.
    Some of the community centers will cater exclusively to the elderly and children.

    2) Reviving the agricultural sector by ushering in new agrarian reforms with a concentration on bio fuels such as ethanol thus limiting dependancy on hydrocarbons. Whiles exploring the possibility of soy farming to support the the corn and cane ethanol production, We shall educate the population on this issue so that the clear choice will be seen by all. This inititive will slowly but surely detach our hydrocarbon dependent economy away from its foreign “interest”.

    We shall also re-introduce rice and citrus farming by creating farming communes, issuing land grants to trained farmers, these local farms will be subsidized to produce the necessary output required for local, regional and eventually international consumption. Thus rescuing the now dead agricultural industry that is an imperative for any nation that seeks self sufficiency.
    We will support this by building the necessary state of the art factories and utilizing a modern approach towards the management of this industry. Thus minimizing the dependency on Guyanese rice and citrus imports.

    3) Subsidising aqua farming while complimenting the National Fisheries.

    We shall introduce a wide range of coastal and inland county fish farms which will see the introduction of species from the south pacific and other regions such as Ahi tuna, and Mahi Mahi to compliment the growing specialized taste or needs of the foreign markets. While increasing production of the national fisheries output by implementing a badly needed state of the art upgrade of facilities, combining that with a management overhaul. For the local market we shall farm species such as fresh water Talapia as well as local species to subsidize the nations poor and needy.

    4) Ensuring “all” National utilities and companies run at their most efficient level by implimenting the necessary upgrades and training where necessary. We intent within the first two years in office to have 98% percent of homes furnished with the necessary water and electricity lines. “Where ever” there is a home we shall go! thus finally putting to an end the water shortages and blackouts that has plagued nation’s poor so chronically since the 1970’s

    5) Natural gas: currently in 2008 in T&T most nationals still have to purchase tanks of gas from local companies to prepare food at home.
    What we propose is the laying of the infrastructure and the running of underground pipelines through out every region of the nation to provide affordable natural gas to the stoves of every national within geographical scope. Thus ushering in the 21 century standards that have been ignored by previous and present governments.

    4) Education is the right of all. This being so we will ensure that the nation maintains a highly literate and educated status by preparing the youth with the necessary tools and environment to do so. We do not believe that the run-down classrooms and antiquated curriculum of today provides for this. We further see a more “devastating” division between the rich and the poor with regards to who has access to a good education at the primary to university level. We there fore propose:

    The upgrade, and necessary construction of “all” schools in T&T. Pre-K, Primary, Seconday Schools, Trade and the completion of UTT (This also will be a priority to be done within the first 2 years in office, with UTT’s completion being in 4).

    Given the national crisis and its effects on the nations youth brought about by the current and previous governments introduction of casinos, prostitution, crime, drug running etc. We propose a solution to once again instill a sense of purpose and nation hood in the youth today which they only know when the soca warriors wins a game.

    Mandatory National Service:

    We shall institute a program of mandatory national service (MNS) for the youth of the nation. This would become effective upon turning 16. It would include cross regional training, i.e. the youth from Caroni will train in another region and vice versa in the following industries.

    Medical: Work along medical personnel in hospitals, emergency management, community medical centers.

    Agriculture: working with farmers and national agro industries

    Military: Compulsory military service age 17, with a two year required service, irrespective of “class” all must participate.

    Hydrocarbons: Working in the nations oil and natural gas industry

    Bio Fuels: working with national farms, assisting in harvest etc
    (this falls under agriculture as well)

    Aqua/Fisheries: Working with the National fisheries and fish farms
    Food: Working in National School feeding programs, Hospitality

    Utilities: Working with the National utilities e.g WASA, T&TEC, TSTT.

    Tourism: Working in National Airport, Ferries, Rails Etc
    Conservation: Working on projects to safe guard our National parks and treasures.

    Government Administration: Working as an entry level trainee in all administrative organs of government.

    We shall also include exchange programs with our regional and international sister countries.

    On Government:

    We believe that all are Trinbagonians and therefore do not seek to seperate the population based on ethnic groupings while taking into consideration each historical, cultural and socio-political contributions to the nation. We believe that the to long neglected Carib indiginous population in Trinidad are the origional people of this land. We therefore shall include a representative of their ruling council to sit permantly on the partys central executive.

    We believe in a government of the people ran by the people, therefore we shall institute Regional Ruling Councils (RRC) across T&T.

    1)Each RRC shall elect its representatives from the cross spectrum of the region to comprise a sector or board of 12 members.

    2)One elected representitive, shall chair the council and report to the national central government on the regions needs and plans, which shall be supported by the National Central Government.

    3) Anyone belonging to the region can be a member of the council regardless of class, ethnic group, or gender.

    4) It will be illegal for private industry to have representation on the peoples (RRC)

    4) to sit on the elected board one must be 21yr’s or older.

    The Government structure:

    President Vice President
    Central Executive
    National Central Government/Tobago Central Government
    Ministries/Ministers/Armed forces
    Regional Ruling Councils

    (Most of the ministries will remain intact with the exception of office of the president and the attorney general. In the case of the attorney general each region will have an attorney general thus eliminating the prestige and central power, also the office of the president as a ministry is irrelevant. Also tertiary education will be removed from the Ministry of science and technology and be placed in the education ministry where it belongs). Also we have added a National&Regional Emergency ministry to better guard against the Natural disasters faced in the globe by man made and natural disasters and will restructure the ministry of National Security, and rename it the Ministry of National Defense. We shall feel out the process of ministries and along the way make adjustments suited for the nations future.


    National & Regional Emergency
    Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources
    Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs
    Foreign Affairs
    Legal Affairs
    National Defense
    Planning, Housing and the Environment
    Public Administration
    Public Utilities
    Science & Technology
    Social Development
    Sport and Youth Affairs
    Trade and Industry
    Works and Transport

    Regional Ruling council(RRC): These represent the true voce of the people, through these councils, projects that will build and strengthen communities will be implemented. The building of roads, hospitals, schools, medical centers etc, will all be done by and through the governance of the RRC in conjunction with the (NCG) National Central Government, and the relevant ministries. i.e If a region has an issue with lack of water, or roads to be fixed. Instead of going through the cluttered bureaucracy of going down to the nearest WASA office to wait in long lines, only to not have the problem addressed because of a back log coupled with poor management.
    The (RRC) through its elected body or council which will represent the constituents that comprise the council, will make all those decisions on their own, having the autonomy to do so, then through an elected representative report directly to the NCG which will then support the approved venture. Thus freeing up WASA to focus on solutions and not creating more problems instead.

    On issues of law:


    We believe that the nations father Dr Eric Williams was correct when he made into law only nationals could own land in T&T, therefore we shall Reinstate the constitutional clause that was removed by a previous government who’s only concern was getting a share of the wealth from those development deal’s. Which has encroached on the environment and people of Trinidad, but Mostly Tobago. Where today real estate is out of the reach of those who have toiled for the country.

    Therefore we will repeal the (Foreign Investment Tobago Land Acquisition Order) whereby foreigners must now obtain a license to acquire land for any purpose on the island of Tobago. This act, though made into law by the current government to address the burning concerns of the citizens of T&T still falls short of the required solution. We all know that through bribery, one can still go around this law.

    So we will make it “constitutional law” that “only” Nationals by birth can own and purchase land in T&T, all other’s can enter into lease arrangements that cannot exceed 30yrs.

    Price regulation:

    For to long now goods and services have been at the control of some unscrupolous business men, we shall set into motion the necessary pricing control mechanisms to ensure that the nations poor can acquire the goods and services needed at a fair price.

    Tax Control:

    We shall repeal the criminal Vat tax that was forced on the nation by the IMF/World Bank during the early 80’s. This tax has become a noose around the neck of the nation’s people who can hardly keep abreast with the rising prices of today.

    Utilities Rates:

    We shall reduce the utilities tax/rates that have steadily increased while service has decreased to catastrophic levels and CEO’s such as WASA’s have salaries of over $9,00,000TT. We shall make it Law, that every house hold must get affordable basic necessities such as water and electricity and gas.

    Foreign Private Enterprise:

    We do take into consideration the contributions made by those Foreign private enterprises that seek the nations welfare and well being, this as it may we shall not be leinent with those who seek to exploit the nations people and their wealth. There fore we will not be in support of any type of “Free Zone” enterprise on our shores. We support free trade, that right of a nations people to benefit from their trade agreements with other sovereign nations, while respecting the very notion itself that all nations are sovereign.

    Therefore we shall seek regional initiatives with our Latin American, Caribbean sister countries and intensify the trade initiatives and investments with our International trading partners such as the Chinese, India, Africa, EU, Canada etc.

    We will reserve the right to terminate or re-negotiate any deal done by the previous government that was not in the interest of the Nation.

    Local enterprises:

    We recognize that Local enterprises have played a key role in the development of the nation. Therefore while we understand the need to limit it’s ability to over price, and shall monitor its compliance with safety laws, workers rights, fair trade etc, as with the international companies, We will work together to create a more egalitarian economic model, one which will benefit the National interest of which all nationals are equal partners, first.

    This is the direction i think we need to go in Neal. I will continue to develop it!

  • Maby this whole issue of using food for fuel while people suffer has to be looked into but i do think we have to find a better alternative to the present hydrocarbon depletion that will arise sooner or later.

Comments are currently closed.