Oil and Gas Industry Relations
In response to the expansion of oil and gas activity in Newfoundland and Labrador, FFAW-Unifor has created capacity in the organization to ensure the views and concerns of the fishing industry are considered by oil and gas operators and regulators during the development, review and execution of exploration, development and production activities.
By liaising with oil and gas companies and regulators we work to:
- Review related documentation and activities related to oil and gas activity in Newfoundland and Labrador
- Participate in consultation processes and represent fish harvesters on committees and/or research initiatives related to oil and gas activities
- Provide effective input and advice on the potential impacts associated with oil and gas activities on the fishing industry
- Facilitate education and awareness, cooperation and information exchange between the fishing and petroleum sectors
- Coordinate the FFAW Fisheries Guide Vessel and Fisheries Liaison Observer (FLO) program
Issues and Impacts
There are a number of impacts of oil and gas activities affecting the fishing industry. Loss of access to fishing grounds, an increase in steaming times, gear damage, navigational challenges and safety concerns with increased vessel traffic, iceberg deflection operations, concerns regarding seismic activity, and an elevated environmental risk (e.g. oil spills, discharges, etc.) are all being addressed to mitigate impacts.
At the onset of any offshore program, oil and gas companies typically conduct public consultations in the areas adjacent to their planned activities. Particularly if the proposed project has any impact on fishing activity it is important to identify issues or concerns at or near the beginning of the program to enable an oil and gas company to consider measures to mitigate these issues. For example, seismic surveys could be planned during closed fishing seasons as well as outside important spawning times.
Fisheries Liaison Officers (FLOs) are onboard all oil and gas seismic vessels conducting 3-D seismic programs to ensure fishing-industry led monitoring and observer coverage of offshore petroleum programs. FLOs are deployed during open fishing seasons for rig tows outside of the exclusion/safety zone of offshore operators.
FFAW-Unifor also has a Fisheries Guide Vessel program that 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. Download a Fisheries Guide Vessel registration form here.
Communication between the oil and gas industry and the fishing industry is vital to co-existence in the same ocean. The CBC Radio Fisheries Broadcast and Notices to Shipping/Mariners are used to communicate operational oil and gas activities that may impact on the fishing industry. As well, information is often relayed on the Nav Tex system. The FFAW is working on an email distribution list as well to more directly connect with enterprise owner/operators regarding offshore activities.