Seismic testing should be halted until more research is done into why plankton productivity in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador has plunged, the Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) says.
Plankton — more specifically phytoplankton and zooplankton — are at the base of the ocean's food chain. If it isn’t protected, FISH-NL says, fish stocks that the province’s fishery depend upon could be lost.
“It’s highly coincidental that as seismic activity ramped up plankton productivity plunged,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “Seismic activity may be necessary for offshore oil and gas development, but it must not come at the expense of our wild fisheries and marine ecosystem — cutting off our nose to spite our face.”
FISH-NL is calling on the Canada/Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) to suspend offshore seismic work.
In December, a senior scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in St. John’s revealed that plankton productivity in waters around Newfoundland and Labrador has plunged by 50 per cent in the past four or five years.
FISH-NL notes that seismic activity in waters around Newfoundland and Labrador has increased dramatically in recent years.
“If plankton isn’t protected you might as well say goodbye to the fish,” said Cleary.
He said it is ironic that DFO has adopted “a so-called precautionary approach in fisheries management, which is about being cautious when scientific knowledge is uncertain.”
“There’s nothing precautionary about super-sized seismic activity,” Cleary said. “It’s just the opposite.”