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By Clifford Stanley
An intrusion of salt water from the Atlantic Ocean just west of the Abary River mouth in Region 5 (Mahaica/Berbice) is currently placing the livelihoods of fishermen who operate from the area under serious threat.
The breach also has the potential for eventually causing serious damage to crop and livestock production in the area, residents say. The area under immediate threat accommodates over eighty fishing boats and provides direct employment for as many as three hundred persons. Fishermen complained to Village Voice News that the intrusion of the Ocean has in recent months created an island a few hundred feet away from their docking area.
For the fishermen, the “island” which is about a thousand metres in length and about three hundred meters in width is at the moment serving as their only line of defence against the Atlantic. But it is not a very reassuring defence.
The vegetation on this slice of land is being washed away and the land itself is being whittled away from the front by every high tide. To make matters worse, the fishermen reported, the channel behind the island caused the breach is widening. “The erosion is a kind of double action: the hammering from the front and the erosion from behind and if urgent action is not taken sooner or later, maybe sooner than later, this stretch of the coast will become submerged and disappear; our entire landing area will be washed away; this place will no longer be good for fishing or any related commercial activity.”
The area under immediate threat they reported accommodates over eighty fishing boats and provides direct employment for as many as three hundred persons. He added: “This is no exaggeration; this is an emergency situation. The authorities need to look at the sea defence for this 1000 metre stretch of the coast. Prompt and serious action has to be taken before the situation gets worse.”
Fishermen reported that the problem has been in the making for several months now. “This breach started as a small channel but has been widening at a very fast rate.”
The intrusion has already damaged erosion protection revetments inside the landing area. An earthen dam had since been built to protect the inland area from intrusion but this is constantly under threat. “The Contractor said they going lift that inside dam a bit higher to prevent water coming in from the channel and we welcome that but real solution is to block the breach itself. The Engineers may know better but perhaps a rip rap system or some such engineering solution.
“In any event the situation needs to be addressed urgently not only to safeguard the livelihoods of we fishermen but also the livelihoods of both crops and livestock farmers in the area.”
The veteran warned: ”This situation could rapidly worsen into another situation like at Dantzig also in Region 5 where they had a major breach and salt water intrusion last year.”