Sunday, April 14, 2013

POISONING OUR RIVERS - the Peter O'Connor commentary

Dead crayfish in Brasso Seco - click here to see more photos
The story coming out of Brasso Seco on Easter Monday was frightening. Residents of the little forest community, while bathing in the upper reaches of the Marianne River, noticed crayfish and crabs suddenly trying to leap out of the river, and then dying. 

They started to search for the cause of this disaster, and saw people upstream collecting dead crayfish. The Brasso Seco people suspected that these people had poured poison into the river to kill the crayfish and other aquatic life so that they could gather them and sell them to unsuspecting buyers. So the people from Brasso Seco took note of the numbers of the vehicles which these strangers had driven to the upper Marianne River to catch the crayfish.

The numbers of the vehicles cannot be published here, because the villagers did not actually see the people pour poison into the river. In order for the police to prosecute, an actual witness to the act would be needed. 

But we can surmise, and the vehicle numbers can be found on the Papa Bois Conservation page on facebook. It is possible that these people just happened to be there when the concerned villagers noticed the dying crayfish. Conversely, there is nothing to show that these owners and drivers did not pour poison into a pristine river. What cannot be in dispute is that someone poured poison into the river, and collected several of the dead crayfish. 

And we also must accept that this is not an isolated case. People have reported similar incidents in the past, and because of the remoteness of these streams and rivers on the Atlantic face of the Northern Range, the perpetrators probably do this pretty often—poisoning our pristine streams and killing our wildlife, seldom ever being seen or caught. 

The Marianne River springs out of out of Morne Bleu, one of our highest peaks. It flows several miles down to Blanchisseuse, and is poisoned not only by these lawbreaking and clearly dangerous perpetrators, but by the innocent and ignorant spraying of weedicides and pesticides on all of the gardens along the way. 

These wash into the river and slowly add poison all along the way. And of course, the same thing is happening to the Paria River, Madamas, Petit Riviere, Matelot, Shark River and Grande Riviere, and all the way past Toco to the rivers that open on to the East Coast.

Most of the rivers—of those that are still “rivers”, not concrete ditches—on the southern face of the Northern Range, are already sufficiently poisoned that you cannot drink their waters, and in some you should not even bathe. These rivers are, and are becoming more so daily, polluted and poisoned with human waste, garden and agricultural chemical runoff, and tons of silt being washed out of quarries and “development”. 

And while all of this is going on, there is a total lack of concern or interest from any government with which we might be burdened, the business community, the labour movement, the Inter Religious Organization, or let us accept—anyone at all. 

And before the two dozen genuinely concerned citizens jump on me, let me tell you that statistically, we are zero. We can be a noisy zero, but we certainly do not represent the view of this sad society. Many of us pretenders join “hiking groups” and go by the hundreds into the forests, mostly to hidden rivers and waterfalls, and leave all of our garbage right there. 
See more pictures
Please do not write and tell me “not me”, or “not my group”! The garbage is there, and it seems that even if it is not yours, you are content to wallow around in it, instead of collecting it and bringing it out. Overseas family visited Paria Bay and Falls last weekend. They were appalled at the noisy campers on the beach, with loud radios and rubbish strewn around. But at the waterfall they were horrified. Litter, including open, rusting tuna fish cans, was spread everywhere around the once beautiful pool.

We clearly have absolutely no shame at our degradation. Our litter, our nastiness, our poisons are just dumped in places which should be treated with some reverence. But of course that is beyond our
understanding. That serene and beautiful place that we just desecrated and poisoned is, after all “just bush”, a place for mosquito and snake, right! And who going know is we who left it so nasty? (sic) 

But it is not just bush. These are the places which produce the oxygen we breath, the water we drink and use, and in their preservation we create economic opportunity for generations. But we do not understand this, and until we do, we are doomed to a future of drinking poisoned water in the barren valleys of the future.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai