This week the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) announced five new successful bids that has resulted in nearly 1,010,000 hectares approved for oil and gas exploration. Two of the five parcels fall within a marine refuge area that restricts all fishing activity while oil and gas operations persist unencumbered.
“Oil, gas and seismic activity is continuing completely unrestricted in these supposed protected areas. This is understandably frustrating for harvesters who have given up considerable fishing grounds in the name of conservation,” said FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.
Sullivan adds, “Any closures intended to focus on marine conservation must restrict all other marine industrial activities. We cannot ask fish harvesters to accept the closure of an area to fishing activity in the name of conservation while continuing to allow oil and gas exploration in that same area.”
In addition to the marine refuge closure, new areas open for oil and gas exploration and development include valuable fishing grounds that will significantly affect fish harvesters' enterprises.
The provincial government has plans to double oil and gas extraction in the next 12 years, which will undoubtedly impact conservation areas and harvesting activities. It is essential that harvesters be properly consulted prior to the bid process commencing.
“The government has shown a clear disregard for the interests of fish harvesters by prioritizing oil and gas over the fishing industry and conservation efforts. It’s time for the government to stop shutting harvesters out while letting oil and gas in,” concluded Sullivan.
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