Sunday, January 26, 2014

Polluting paradise with noise.

Last week I wrote about how “free” we are to do what we want, “irregardless” of the inconvenience and distress to others. 

Everything we do is for our own uncaring convenience, and we remain totally unconscious of this. When someone who is being distressed actually points out that we are creating disturbance, nuisance, traffic chaos or filth, we take great offence: “is only a little music”, “it have people to clean the road”, “Fly over nuh!”The last being the buffoons blocking the road with their cars while talking to each other, and you have no justification for your annoyance.

I shook my head in dismay and embarrassment last Saturday, even before my Sunday column was published. We had planned a boat trip down the islands for overseas family visiting us. No house to visit, we just meandered around in a friend’s small open boat and finally dropped anchor in Scotland Bay to swim and have lunch. 

There were, as usual, several other boats at anchor or tied up to the coastline, families enjoying a sunny day in a beautiful setting, a couple of people in anchored pirogues fishing, about four foreign sailboats at anchor. Everything and everyone there was in harmony with nature and with each other. Two Ospreys circled above the bay while a few pelicans routinely flopped into the water seeking their meals.

My nephew, visiting from the United States had asked if we might hear, or even see, the Red Howler Monkeys which frequent the onshore area.

Then a shrieking, booming, blasting sound tore apart the serendipity. People jumped, looked around, startled as to what this might be. It certainly was not the Red Howlers, nor was it an attack on or by the military base at nearby Teteron Bay.

It was what we know as a “fete boat”, a vessel equipped to create noise and allow drunken people to disturb the peace of others. They came right into the bay, amplifiers blasting stale soca, and some bored looking people looking like they forgot how to wine just humping each other as they held their drink in one hand and a railing with the other. 

The large boat, with no name written on its bow (we never saw the stern—that’s the back of the boat to you “boat feters” who probably do not know where you are) came right into the Bay and dropped anchor between all the boats peacefully anchored there. 

The ospreys and the pelicans disappeared— apparently blown away by the appalling booming noise. People on the foreign yachts went into their cabins and closed their hatches. We and a couple of other boats pulled up our anchor and left. The feters waved their drinks sloppily at us as we departed.

Why do we allow this sort of thing to happen still? 

The Chagaramas Peninsula is a listed nature sanctuary as far as I know. And surely this includes the beaches and the bays? What controls, if any, does the Chagaramas Development Authority have to prevent this noise abuse within their Authority? Or do they even care? And what about the Noise Pollution Laws of the EMA? Do they stop functioning at the High Water Mark? 

You can bet your sweet life that no party boat is going to anchor off Shorelands or Bayshore and blast that kind of noise. And you know that they cannot drop anchor and rev up the soca just off any “island” house that a government minister or persons with “connections” might be occupying.

Noise disturbs wildlife. And it disturbs and annoys humans (and killer bees!). I am calling on the CDA and the EMA to clarify their jurisdictions in the area and islands of the Chagaramas National Park. And I want to know their jurisdictions regarding noise, litter, camping and fires, and reckless handling of boats.

The noise can be easily stopped. All it should have taken last Saturday was a phone call from us to the EMA and CDA, and a patrol boat would have arrived in minutes (they should naturally already at sea patrolling the area) and the noise would have ended, and many people would have been happier.

I am heartened by the increasing activism against noise coming from communities. And your activism is letting you have a better life. Help me to carry a campaign against Noise in Nature forward, so that our National Parks can become the quiet havens which the world knows is the raison d’etre for National Parks. 

We already have the precedent of the Caroni Bird Sanctuary to ban amplified music in Chagaramas, Lopinot, our beaches, rivers and forests. We need to appreciate the value of these places, not only as sanctuaries, but as the sources of our air, water and food.

Let us cherish them silently.

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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