The Gulf of Paria is a semi-enclosed sea that separates the island of Trinidad from the mainland of Venezuela; it is open to the oceanic regimes of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean only through narrow straits at its northern and southern boundaries. The waters of the Gulf are strongly influenced by fluvial discharges from the Amazon and the Orinoco River systems. This nutrient-rich water increases the primary and secondary productivity in the Gulf, making it one of the most productive bodies of waters in Trinidad with at least 66 species of finfish (17 families), 5 species of shrimp, crabs, squids, and conch. However, the Gulf is threatened by petroleum exploration and extraction; due to the lucrative nature of the oil and gas industry, the Gulf has suffered the consequence of many oil spills and its everlasting effects on the health of ocean, marine life, seabirds, and human health and livelihood. Other threats include heavy metal pollution, marine traffic, overfishing, and climate change. The Gulf of Paria Waterkeeper, sponsored by Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, is the only non-governmental organization in Trinidad and Tobago that takes legal action against the bodies that are disregarding the environment and the law.
Gary Aboud is one of the founding executives and Corporate Secretary of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS), the sponsoring organization for Gulf of Paria Waterkeeper. Gary works to promote sustainable development, unbiased environmental management, accountability, inclusion, consultation, transparency, and community empowerment throughout the Caribbean. Gary and FFOS have challenged, in and out of court, all governments and companies, from almost every sector, and continues to advocate for important matters affecting Trinidad and Tobago’s precious natural resources, ecosystems, and people. Gary has worked with local fishers to mobilize support and increase awareness of the dangers of improperly regulated shrimp-trawling, the fishery decimation from seismic survey noise, and from energy and chemical safety and disasters. The group believes in judicial remedies when all else fails. Gary has led FFOS to the Privy Council twice, to the Appeal Court three times, and to the High Court eight times and was recently successful at the Privy Council in the interpretation of the Polluter Pays Principle of the Water Pollution Fees 2001.
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