PRESS RELEASE- Trinidad & Tobago- Fishermen and Friends of the Sea

Thursday 18th Oct, at 9.45am the High Court of Trinidad and Tobago delivered its judgment in a claim involving Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) vs The Minister of Planning, Housing and the Environment.

The matter comprised a Judicial Review of the Governments implementation of a Water Pollution Fees Permit as a standard across the board fee, instead of abiding by the sliding scale of the Polluter Pay Principle which would charge more fees depending on the quantity of pollution discharged.

This judgment has immense ramifications for sustainable development, ecosystems, industry, farmers and all citizens of our nation.

The matter is considered extremely important for the future sustainable development of our county, especially because the Fees were structured as a standard charge which means that a small pig farmer with 20 pigs, and a chemical or energy industry were legislated to pay the same fee to pollute the Environment. FFOS considered this counterproductive and an unjust interpretation of the Law.

In his judgment, Justice Devindra Rampersad declared that the methodology of employing a flat annual fee for water pollution permits is illegal and quashed the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) ability to use a fixed or flat fee. His Honour also issued an order of mandamus compelling the EMA to properly use and apply the polluter pay principle, and has stopped the EMA from any continued implementation of this fee.

This is a great success for T&T, as from now on, companies will be made to pay the cost of pollution, prevention and control measures.

Fishermen and Friends of the Sea is a environmental NGO in Trinidad and Tobago which sprouted up in 1996 to protect critical mangrove habitat on the north-west coast of Trinidad. Sustainable fisheries and protecting the livelihoods of artisanal fishers has always been part of the FFOS mandate. Today the NGO focuses on environmental lobbying and educational outreach to attain environmental justice in a nation where development rules.

Congratulations to Fishermen and Friends of the Sea and T&T.

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