Trinidad and Tobago

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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago is one of the first countries in the region to pursue a consolidated and scientific approach to environmental management. Establishing a comprehensive regulatory regime for protection of the environment, the nation has drawn upon environmental management practitioners; lawyers; university students and governments in order to implement an environmental management regime relevant to the needs of developing economies.

Featured Legislation

1916: The Fisheries Act was passed. The Act regulates fishing in inland waters and the territorial sea of Trinidad and Tobago. The Act consists of 10 sections: Short title (1); Interpretation (2); Application of the Act (3); Regulations (4); Duty of Fisheries Officer (5); Penalty for breach of Regulations (6); Use of poison or explosives (7); Taking of fish in prohibited areas (8); Inspection, seizure and forfeiture of nets (9); Offences committed at sea (10). This act shall extend to all rivers, whether tidal or otherwise and the territorial sea of Trinidad and Tobago (sect. 3). Except with a written permission of the Minister, no person shall take any fish in an area declared to be a prohibited area under section 4 (sect. 8). Section 9 provides in detail for powers of inspection and enforcement of the Fisheries Officer and any person authorized by him.

1916: The Forests Act was enacted. This Act provides for various matters of miscellaneous character relating to forests, forest reserves, grazing in forests, the cutting of timber and other forest produce. Section 2 contains interpretations. Section 3 requires the Minister to appoint Forest Officers for purposes of this Act. Sections 4 to 6 make provision for the extraction of balata gum from balata trees. Section 4 prohibits extraction of gum on State lands but allows for extraction of gum on private lands with a valid license granted by a district officer. Removal of gum requires a permit to be granted under section 5 by the district officer. Section 6 concerns the exportation of balata gum. Section 7 prohibits the transportation of timber listed in the Second Schedule without a valid permit from an authorized officer. For purposes of section 7, the Minister may declare districts to be “declared districts”, i.e. districts to which the prohibition of removal of timber applies. Section 8 defines “forest offenses” in Forests Reserves and State lands. Cattle illegally trespassing such forests may be seized by Forest Officers pursuant to section 9. Other provisions of this Act concern other powers of Forest Officers, rural constables or the police, legal proceedings, penalties, rewards for collaboration with enforcement officers and regulation making powers of the Minister. (23 sections completed by 2 Schedule).

1958: The Conservation of Wildlife Act was approved. This Act establishes a framework for the protection of wildlife by establishing game sanctuaries, and to provide for the control of hunting and the exportation of wild animals. “Animal" includes all animals except domesticated animals and those kept lawfully in captivity. Titles of the 24 sections of the Act include: Game Sanctuaries (sect. 3); Hunting, etc., in Game Sanctuary (sect. 4); Hunting Protected Animals (sect. 5); Hunting, etc. in State Lands (sect. 6); Hunting Prohibited in Close Season (sect. 7); Residents’ licenses (sect. 9); Special Game License in Certain Cases (sect. 10); Powers of Search and Seizure (sect. 12); Exportation of Animals (sect. 18); Customs Law to Apply to Animals (sect. 19). Section 8 provides for the establishment and composition of the Wild Life Conservation Committees. It is prohibited to hunt, or carry a dog for the purpose of hunting, or carrying of weapons capable of being used for hunting in Game Sanctuaries except under a license issued by the Chief Game Warden under section 9 (sect. 4). Section 8 provides for the establishment of a WildLife Conservation Committee which shall advise the Minister on all matters pertaining to wildlife conservation in Trinidad and Tobago. Exportation of animals or carrying them towards the coast requires a written permission by the Chief Game Warden. (6 Schedules: Game Sanctuaries (1); Animals and birds pursuant to section 6 (2); List Of Animals Declared as Vermin (3); Form of Special Game License (4); Close Season (5); Forest Personnel (6)).

2000: The Environmental Management Act was ratified. This Act makes provision for the establishment and functioning of the Environmental Management Authority, for environmental management and impact assessment, for the reduction of pollution, and the protection of natural resources.

2001: The Biodiversity Strategy & Action Plan for Trinidad and Tobago was introduced. Trinidad and Tobago ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on August 1, 1996, and in accordance with article 6 of this Convention, the present National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) for Trinidad and Tobago represents the culmination of the first phase of planning under the CBD. This document provides support to the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GoRTT) to plan for the conservation and sustainable use of the country’s biodiversity, within the context of its socio-economic development programmes.

2001: The Water Pollution Rules were created. These Regulations aim at the prevention and control of inland, coastal and marine waters of Trinidad and Tobago and marine waters in general. Water pollutants specific to Trinidad and Tobago are specified in the First Schedule. A person who intends to release polluted water from a registrable facility (defined in reg. 2) shall submit a ‘source application’ to the Environmental Management Authority under regulation 4. A registration certificate shall be issued to the applicant under regulation 7. If notified by the Authority, persons who release water pollutants beyond the permissible level (specified in the Second Schedule), shall apply for a permit with the Authority (reg. 8). Subsequent regulations provide for application for permits, duration, conditions, transfer, variation, renewal, suspension, etc. appeal against decisions of the Authority in respect of a registration certificate or a permit may be lodged with the Environmental Commission (reg. 24). The Authority shall establish and maintain a Water Polluters Register pursuant to regulation 25. (26 regulations completed by two Schedules).

2001: The Noise Control Pollution Rules were drafted. These Regulations make provision for the prevention and reduction of noise pollution in Trinidad and Tobago and implement provisions of the Environmental Management Act with respect to noise pollution reduction. The Environmental Management Authority shall maintain the Register of Noise Pollutants in accordance with section 49 of the Act. Noise zones are established under rule 4. Standards prescribed in the First Schedule shall apply to each zone. Rule 6 and the Second Schedule concerns measurement of sound pressure, whereas rule 7 exempts certain activities from prescribed standards. A person wishing to conduct an activity causing noise in excess of prescribed standards, shall submit an application to the Environmental Management Authority under rules 9 to 13. The Board of Director of the Authority shall appoint a Noise Advisory Council (rule 14) which shall advise the Authority on a variation of prescribed standards. The Authority shall establish a Noise Variation Register.

2006: The National Environmental Policy was signed. The goal of the National Environmental Policy is environmentally sustainable development, meaning the balance of economic growth with environmentally sound practices in order to enhance the quality of life and meet the needs of present and future generations. The specific objectives of the Policy are to: Prevent, reduce or where possible recycle all forms of pollution to ensure adequate protection of the environment and consequently the health and well-being of humans; Conserve the vitality and diversity of the natural environment through the conservation of ecological systems and the biodiversity within; Develop within the carrying capacity (the assimilative capacity of the environment) of the country through national physical development and planning; and the sustainable use of renewable resources and the conservation of non-renewable resources; Change attitudes and practices of citizens with a view to reducing the polluting practices of the public; Ensure that all industries install a certified Environmental Management System; Empower stakeholders, including communities, to care for their own environments by providing opportunities to share in managing their local resources and the right to participate in decision-making; Promote the integration of the principles of environmental sustainable development into all national policies and programme.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • In October 2021: Trinidad and Tobago, through the Global Environment Facility (GEF), approved and funded a project, which is part of a broader programmatic framework and parent project to support the entry of thirty-three (33) small island developing states (SIDS) in the Caribbean, Pacific, Atlantic and the Indian Ocean into a safe chemical development pathway. According to Minister Robinson-Regis, the country is poised to benefit from regional and national project activities valued at approximately US $800,000.00 out of the total amount allocated for the global project. Targeting human health, the initiative will bring citizens’ health to the forefront of national discourses, promoting environmentally sound management of hazardous chemicals in materials, products and wastes. The initiative will also strengthen institutional and technical capacity to reduce/control the current and future trade of chemicals and products containing hazardous chemicals and the development of a formal mechanism for interagency collaboration and trainings for Pesticide Inspectors and Customs Officers in the development of pre-screening and inspection guidelines to control the import of mercury-added products. The nation will also work in collaboration with the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality and national bureau of standards, selecting suitable alternatives to products containing mercury and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and training stakeholders and consumers on the benefits of sustainable procurement. The ISLANDS project is fully supported by the Ministry of Planning and Development, which has responsibility for environmental management through the Environmental Policy and Planning Division as well as other agencies including BCRC Caribbean and the Environmental Management Authority.

References and Further Reading


Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources:;