Monday, 30 January 2017

Fish and shrimp samples from the Gulf of Paria indicate that seafood is safe for consumption

After two episodes of mass fish mortality in early February and late July to early August 2016 in the Gulf of Paria, the Ministry of Planning and Development initiated the testing of fish and shrimp samples to determine the safety of local fish stock originating from the Gulf for human consumption.  Tests were carried out for the presence of heavy metals, carcinogens, Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and concentrations of the dispersant component DOSS (used to determine the presence of oil dispersant COREXIT 95).

Two US-based laboratories were contracted through the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) to conduct the testing – the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC), which is a branch of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US Department of Commerce and Eurofins Frontier Global Sciences.

A Multi-Agency Committee was convened by the Honourable Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis, comprising: the Environmental Management Authority (EMA); the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA); the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI); Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries; Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO); Public Health Division, Ministry of Health; Sea Food Industry Development Company (SIDC) and the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory of Trinidad and Tobago to determine the contaminants to be tested and the protocol for collection of the fish and shrimp samples.

On September 30, 2016 fish and shrimp samples were taken from seven (7) landing sites – Orange Valley, Claxton Bay, King’s Wharf, Carenage, Cedros, La Brea and Icacos and shipped to the relevant labs.   Final results were received on January 10, 2017.  The fish species sampled were red fish, carite, cro cro, salmon, catfish along with white/cork shrimp.

In terms of heavy metals, the samples were tested for the following contaminants - Methyl Mercury; Mercury; Chromium; Nickel; Copper; Zinc; Inorganic Arsenic; Total Arsenic; Cadmium; Lead; Vanadium. The results indicate that the fish and shrimp sampled from the seven (7) landing sites were safe for human consumption.   

In terms of the tests conducted for the presence of carcinogens, Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and concentrations of the dispersant component DOSS, the results indicate:

(i)                 concentrations of carcinogens in the fish and shrimp samples were below the limits of quantitation or when detected, were found at low levels;

(ii)               concentrations of DOSS were lower than the level of concern (LOC) established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response in the Gulf of Mexico.

Therefore, the fish and shrimp sampled from the seven (7) landing sites on September 30, 2016 were deemed safe for human consumption 
The Honourable Minister of Planning and Development, Camille Robinson-Regis would like to add that The Ministry of Planning and Development, the Ministry of Energy and the EMA will be intensifying collaborative efforts with Petrotrin to determine the root cause of oil spill events and to develop a comprehensive plan for monitoring, evaluation and remediation.

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