Nine days after a slick was first spotted by Trinidad and Tobago's Coast Guard, an oil leak from a capsized barge remains unplugged, according to first responders and authorities, prompting nations across the Caribbean to coordinate a response.

The spill has spread miles from Tobago's shore, the area first hit by the incident. Trinidad alerted neighbours Venezuela and Grenada on possible impact to their coasts.

The Caribbean Disaster Management Agency, dependent on regional group Caricom, has activated a contingency plan, the head of Tobago's Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), Allan Stewart. A barge pulled by a tugboat caused the spill, but details of the incident remain unclear, including the type of petroleum leaking, the ship's intended destination, owner and if any members of the crew were lost.

The slick reached about 144 km (89 miles) into the Caribbean Sea and was moving at a rate of 14 km (9 miles) per hour, authorities said. "This looks like it will continue for a few weeks.

“I cannot simply sit down and do nothing," said Edwin Ramkisson, who makes a living fishing for snapper and salmon in Lowlands, on Tobago's Atlantic shore. "I need help cleaning my boat before moving to another port on the Caribbean side."

The barge is believed to have carried as much as 35,000 barrels of fuel oil, Tobago's officials have said. The spill has blackened the island's beaches, affecting wildlife and tourism.

Several beach and golf resorts in Tobago that typically receive foreign tourists have been forced to close access to the ocean. The nearby Scarborough cruise ship port is being protected from the spill by containment booms.

Trinidad is considering declaring a Tier 3 emergency that would allow it to obtain foreign assistance to deal with the spill, Prime Minister Keith Rowley told Parliament.