IMA: 'Rousillac and Irois Bay regenerating naturally from recent pollution'

Caption: Audience member poses a question to the panel at the 2nd IMA Community Research Symposium in Chatham. (Photo courtesy the Ministry of Planning and Development)

March 31, 2017: The Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) conducted its 2nd Community Research Symposium on Wednesday March 29th from 1 PM at the Chatham Community Centre located in Chatham, Point Fortin.  This follows the first Community Symposium which took place in Toco in September 2016.

The theme of the Symposium, ‘Towards a Healthier Southwest Peninsula’ reflects the IMA’s goal to present aspects of the IMA’s current research in various communities, especially those whose livelihoods depend on marine ecosystems, not only for economic gain but for natural water quality control, medicinal purposes, food and so on.   The Symposium in Chatham focused on the latest research in the Southwest Peninsula and intends to communicate the results of the IMA’s research and raise awareness regarding the coastal issues involving the communities which span the coastal areas from San Fernando to Icacos.

IMA monitored the mangroves at Coffee Beach in Rousillac and Irois Bay immediately after the 2013 oil spills established sampling plots and monitored for new die off (change in tree density); regrowth in the density of new seedlings and saplings and the presence of fauna such as crabs, barnacles and birds.  One year after another oil spill in February 2015 IMA observed no new dead trees, an increased density of new seedling growth and colonisation by crabs, barnacles and birds in the affected area.

Coffee Beach continues to be impacted by oil pollution and other forms of land based pollution after December 2013.  This wetland is also subjected to other impacts such as clearing of mangroves for housing and the presence of solid and chemical waste.  Regeneration therefore has not been as positive as Rousillac and Irois Bay.  The IMA has discovered that the issues which plague the Southwest Peninsula such as land and marine based pollution are different from the issues facing the Northeast Peninsula, which is largely coastal erosion.

The IMA stresses to citizens that managing and reducing waste disposal, eliminating litter and showing more care to the environment will go a long way in minimizing some of the problems afflicting our natural environment in Trinidad and Tobago.  The Institute will move to the Northeast segment of Trinidad next.

Despite the scientific evidence presented, members of the community were concerned with impact on sea bathing, similar situations where previous recommendations have not been implemented and the manner by which large companies doing industrial work along the Southwest Peninsula receive approvals.

The Institute of Marine Affairs is Trinidad and Tobago’s major marine research institution which was established by an Act of Parliament in May 1976.  The IMA conducts fields of activity in marine fisheries, aquaculture, marine geology/sedimentology, marine environment policy and law, public education and awareness among others. 

The IMA, as part of the mandate of the Ministry of Planning and Development helps to fulfill the national environmental development agenda of the Ministry.




For further information please contact:

The Corporate Communications Unit

Ministry of Planning and Development

868-627-9700 ext. 1457


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