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Long-term oil spill causes fishery collapse in Newfoundland

File photo courtesy: Pixabay

File photo courtesy: Pixabay

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Monday, August 15, 2016, 4:51 PM - An oil spill that has been seeping into Port au Port Bay near Shoal Port for three years has caused a once-abundant scallop fishery to "collapse", the Canadian Press (CP) reports.

The continuous spill, which sometimes seeps in drops and other times in large amounts, has left residents concerned.

Bob Diamond of the Port au Port Bay Fishery Committee told CP the leak is man-made, and the full extent of the damage is unknown at this point.

The leak is coming from a well at one of at least a dozen abandoned exploration sites in the area that date back as far as the 1800s. There have been previous attempts to cap well pipes in places known for fishing and tourism, with the province spending $263,000 on temporary control measures in 2015, but that hasn't stopped the oil from continuing to seep.

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In May, the fishery noticed a pipe that had been capped in November had been severed, likely due to ice movement and winter weather conditions.

The exact cause of the fishery collapse has yet to be determined, but Diamond told CP it could be linked back to a number of things, "from oil polluting the environment to climate change to acidification of the waters."

Newfoundland's Environment Minister Perry Trimper is seeking legal advice on how to proceed. His office confirmed the presence of oil at Shoal Point.

The fishery committee is appealing to Ottawa and the province to provide more regulatory oversight and tighter restrictions on future oil and gas exploration projects.

They're also asking for more research into what caused scallop stocks to plummet and if the pollution poses a risk to other marine life.

Source: The Canadian Press


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