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MEDIA RELEASE: FFAW Inshore Council Calls for Halt to Experimental Oil Burning

February 2, 2023

February 2, 2023

ST. JOHN’S, NL – FFAW-Unifor’s Inshore Council, composed of 38 elected fish harvesters representing the inshore fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador, is calling for an immediate halt to plans for two experiments that would intentionally spill oil and chemical dispersants into the North Atlantic Ocean over important fishing grounds. Harvesters have grave concerns over the intentional release of pollutants and question the merits and benefits of this research.

FFAW-Unifor first submitted official opposition to the project in writing on January 20, 2023. Inshore Council met in St. John’s this week and are voicing further objection to the proposed experiments.

“The intentional release and burn of oil into the ocean for scientific purposes will not be supported by FFAW-Unifor under any circumstances. Our Inshore Council will not be convinced that deliberate pollution of the marine environment will provide benefits that outweigh the many risks,” says Inshore Council Member Ivan Lear, whose enterprise is based in Port de Grave. “Moreover, the research parameters itself identify an incredibly small window of opportunity for perfect weather conditions – something that would never be replicated in real life,” Lear says.

As part of the National Oceans Protection Plan, the Multi-Partner Research Initiative (MPRI) was launched by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in November of 2016. Dispersant field trails and an offshore burn experiment are two test releases of fluorescein dye and 12 releases of 1 cubic metre of weathered oil, half of which will be treated with Corexit 9500A. The experiment is proposed to take place this year.

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.

“Fish harvesters reject that these tests cannot be conducted in a lab environment that will not pose significant risks to the marine environment. We ask that Minister Joyce Murray put a halt to this project and prevent any undue harm on the ecosystem,” says Tony Doyle, Vice-President of Inshore Council and harvester from Bay de Verde.

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