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C-NLOPB and Seismic Company Ignore Fish Harvester Objections to Seismic Testing During Crab Fishing Season

July 7, 2017

St. John’s – Despite a series of serious objections raised by FFAW-Unifor, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) has approved for seismic activities to take place in prime fishing areas on the Grand Banks during the snow crab fishery. The seismic activity may have serious impacts on the fishery, the marine ecosystem and will interfere with post-season crab surveys taking place in the area.

The testing will be conducted by Multi Klient Invest AS (MKI). The C-NLOPB approved MKI’s request for 3D seismic testing in two areas from mid-July to mid-October and from mid-July to the end of August.

“Seismic testing could have significant consequences for the fishery in the short and long term and our members are still actively fishing in these areas,” said Keith Sullivan, President of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW-Unifor). “This activity interferes with the snow crab fishery taking place in July and threatens to compromise the data collected as part of a longstanding collaborative index between fish harvesters and DFO science.”

FFAW-Unifor has consistently expressed concerns with this testing. Representatives of the Union vigorously opposed the proposed activities when they met with MKI and informed the company of the implications of activity in these areas during this timeframe. Those concerns were also articulated in a letter sent to the C-NLOPB.

It is unprecedented for MKI to disregard the fishing industry and compromise the post-season snow crab survey stations in areas where seismic is taking place. The post-season crab survey is critical to the fishery and informs decision-making on quotas in the coming years. In the past, companies have not displayed this type of disregard and disrespect for the fishing industry and have shown a willingness to work together. This is no longer the case.

The impact of seismic activity on the catchability, behaviour and physiology of various fish species remains unknown. In addition to the testing taking place during the survey, there will be active commercial snow crab fishing taking place in NAFO Divisions 3L and 3N during the month of July.

“Our members will not stand idly by while their livelihood is compromised for seismic testing. The fishery is still ongoing in these areas and harvesters expected to be fishing until the season closes on July 31st,” continued Sullivan. “The limited opportunity for consultation combined with a decision to disregard the grave concerns raised by fish harvesters is unacceptable.”


For media inquiries, please contact:

Courtney Glode, FFAW-Unifor Communications