Programs & Research | FFAW-Unifor | Fish Food & Allied Workers Union

Programs & Research

The Fisheries Guide Vessel Program contracts commercial fishing vessels during offshore oil and gas operations to guide marine vessels (e.g. tow vessels) safely through open water navigating cautiously to avoid encountering or damaging any fishing gear. All enterprise owners who apply to the program are entered in an annual random draw from which the first name is given the opportunity of first refusal. Names are placed in priority sequence based on the order from the random draw. All participants are paid the same flat rate fee per day.

Fisheries Liaison Officers (FLOs) are onboard all oil and gas vessels conducting seismic programs to ensure fishing-industry led monitoring and observer coverage of offshore petroleum programs. FLOs are critical to the open communication process, reporting back to shore on a timely basis, and are deployed during open fishing seasons for rig tows outside of the exclusion/safety zone of offshore operators. FFAW is responsible for training FLOs, and for providing workers compensation and marine liability insurance for both FLOs and guide vessels.

As the Union representing fish harvesters in the province, we will continue to do everything possible to best mitigate any effects from the oil and gas industry on the fishing industry and fight to keep the concerns of our membership heard.

The potential impacts of seismic activity on valuable fish resources and fishing activities continue to be very concerning to the FFAW. For decades, we have spoken out against potential impacts seismic activity has on both the marine environment and on fishing activities. FFAW has lobbied for research to be undertaken on the effects of seismic on fish species and their habitat. The union has been successful in this regard, and members have been working with DFO to examine effects of seismic on species such as snow crab and northern shrimp.

New Research on Seismic: Effects of 2D seismic on the snow crab fishery (2018)

ARTICLE ABSTRACT: Sound is used by a variety of marine taxa for feeding, reproduction, navigation and predator avoidance and therefore alterations to the soundscape from industrial noise have the potential to negatively affect an animalfitness. Furthermore, responses to industrial noise would also have the potential to negatively influence commercial fishing interests. Unfortunately marine invertebrates are generally underrepresented in the seismic effects literature. Snow crab harvesters in Atlantic Canada contend that seismic noise from widespread hydrocarbon exploration has strong negative effects on catch rates. We repeated a Before-After-Control-Impact study over two years to assess the effects of industry scale seismic exposure on catch rates of snow crab along the continental slope of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Our results did not support the contention that seismic activity negatively affects catch rates in shorter term (i.e. within days) or longer time frames (weeks). However, significant differences in catches were observed across study areas and years. While the inherent variability of the CPUE data limited the statistical power of this study, our results do suggest that if seismic effects on snow crab harvests do exist, they are smaller than changes related to natural spatial and temporal variation. READ FULL TEXT HERE.

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