Kaieteur News – An Essequibo fisherman on Wednesday demanded that US oil giant ExxonMobil write him a cheque “for couple billion dollars” so that he could take care of his family.
He made the demand since he believes that the company’s operation offshore Guyana is the main reason why the fish stock has been on the decline.
The fisherman was at the time addressing the gathering in attendance at a public consultation held by ExxonMobil Guyana Limited (EMGL) at Anna Regina, Essequibo Coast, Region Two, to discuss the possible environmental impacts that the six oil project, Whiptail can have on Guyana.
Consultancy firm Environmental Resource Management (ERM), was hired to conduct the environmental study, and EMGL is now travelling around the country to gain the citizens input on the findings so that it can get approval from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to move ahead with the project.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the fisherman raised concerns that ExxonMobil’s operation might be the cause for a decline of fish stock in Guyana’s waters.
ExxonMobil’s Project Manager, Anthony Jackson did not deny that his company’s operation could have potential impacts on fish but chose to say that it can only cause a variation in the stock and not a decline.
According to Jackson, he chose to say “variation” because “he is sensitive to saying decline.”
The worried fisherman on the other hand was very passionate about his concerns and got angry.
In a cell phone-recorded video seen by this media house, the fisherman accused the hosts of the meeting of “fooling” those in attendance with promises.
“ExxonMobil come and give y’all couple billion, me na know how much billion them give ayo fuh come sit down and talk to we”, the man said.
The fisherman then demanded his compensation, “My question is I need money. I need ayo fuh write one cheque fuh couple billion fuh me suh I could mine ma chirren them and stop work a sea because out deh na gat nothing.”
He added- “Watch the seabed with the oil when yuh pull the seine, you ah see oil pon yuh hand.”
On Tuesday, Kaieteur News reported that ExxonMobil’s environmental consultant, ERM said, “fish eggs could be lost daily during oil production.”
Fishermen in Guyana have been complaining repeatedly about the low catch being experienced, a situation which government has blamed on factors such as climate change and seasonal variations.
Though it may be a tough pill for some to swallow, Exxon has confirmed that its operations are likely to affect fish and the livelihoods of fishermen, as studies conducted by ERM have concluded that the marine species could effectively turn broth during production activities.
ERM’s Senior Project Manager and Technical Support, Jason Willey recently explained that during production activities offshore, the Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels require sea water to be used as a cooling substance. He also pointed out that the sea water is required on a “continuous basis” for this purpose.
More importantly, Willey, a biologist within the ERM team, explained that thousands, if not millions of fish eggs could be lost in the process, should this activity occur during spawning or reproductive season. “If the intake occurs at a time when like a spawning event happens, let’s say like when the fish are reproducing, and a lot of eggs and a lot of larvae are in the water, there can be thousands lost, potentially many more than that,” he said.
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