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Harvesters Heard Loud and Clear: DFO Postpones Oil Burn Experiments

May 9, 2023

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announced this month that they are indefinitely postponing two planned offshore oil burn experiments this year, following demands from FFAW-Unifor to cancel the experiments. Two oil spill and burn experiments were planned offshore this August, and a new date has not been set, marking the second time the experiments have been delayed. FFAW-Unifor is hopeful the indefinite delay is a signal the federal government is recognizing the potential harm that could unnecessarily be caused.

FFAW-Unifor opposed the project first in 2020, then in 2021, and again in writing on January 20, 2023. The Inshore Council met in St. John’s in February and voiced further objection to the proposed experiments.

“We are pleased to see DFO indefinitely postpone these two misguided experiments. An oil spill, no matter the magnitude, could have unknown implications on the health of the ocean environment. Deliberate spills of this nature would be entirely counterintuitive to the principle of environmental protection,” says FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty.

As an organization whose membership relies on the health of the ocean for their livelihood, FFAW will not, under any circumstances, support the intentional release of oil for experimental purposes. Alarmingly, it was likely that commercial fishing and post-season crab surveys would occur in the immediate vicinity of the proposed experiments during the allotted timeframe.

“This proposed experiments had numerous flaws and questionable merits of research. Intentionally spilling oil and chemical dispersants, and burning those materials off in the ocean, presented grave concerns for harvesters. We’re confident that this experiment will not be proceeding in the future,” concludes Pretty.

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