OTTAWA – Scientists from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) are reporting a dangerous decline in populations of phytoplankton and zooplankton in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador over the past five years. Fisherman are observing similar declines in other species.
One probable cause is seismic testing for oil and gas deposits, which blasts compressed air into the water, producing the loudest human-made sounds in the ocean. The airguns create noise pollution that travels over 3,000 km every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day for months on end.
Scientist have found that plankton is not only declining in overall biomass but that the composition of plankton itself is shifting. This will probably have a cascading effect on other species since plankton is a bedrock species in ocean ecosystems.
“Seismic boats leave a trail of disaster in their wake,” says David Peters, the Newfoundland and Labrador representative on the Green Party’s Federal Council. “After impact, they leave parts of the ocean barren. With a plankton decline, crab stocks are likely to follow. Seismic testing needs to stop.”
“There are clear signs that we need to make some serious policy adjustments,” says Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada. “In September, scientific research revealed that marine life in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is severely threatened. The DFO findings on plankton provides further proof that we need to abandon our status quo thinking about the environment and take steps toward restoring ecological balance. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador offshore Petroleum Board appears to be rubber stamping industry requests for seismic testing. I will continue to press in the Senate for amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act, C-69, to remove any role for the offshore boards.”
The Green Party of Canada urges the federal government to ban seismic testing off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.
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