Fishermen split over Lofoten seismic activity




Norwegian fishermen are split over the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s acquisition of seismic data which will start off Lofoten next week. Many are opposed to the survey, claiming it is harmful to the fisheries.

They say they will put out their nets and lines in the very waters where the acquisition activities are to take place, in order to block the survey. Others have accepted an offer of financial compensation in return for remaining in harbour while the seismic tests are carried out in their region. The fishermen can still fish when the seismic survey vessels are not in their particular fishing areas.

According to Norwegian law the fishermen have first rights, and the survey vessels have to give way if there are nets and boats in the area. An extensive, cutting-edge research project will be carried out by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) in connection with the acquisition of seismic data in Vesterålen.

The objective of this pioneer project is to study the startle effect of seismic surveys on a number of important commercial fish species. This is the largest project of its kind, and is unique in a global context. In addition to learning more about how different species of fish react to the seismic shock waves, researchers will study how long it takes for fishing to normalise after seismic data acquisition is completed.

The studies of the startle effect will be linked to acoustic measurements. Five fishing vessels have been hired to carry out test fishing before, during and after the seismic survey activity. A prerequisite for carrying out the research project is that the planned seismic surveys in Vesteraalen can proceed as planned. 

Last autumn, the Stortinget allocated NOK 200 million to the NPD’s data acquisition activities in the summer of 2009. NOK 25 million of this amount will be used for the research project, while the buy-out scheme for fishers is estimated to cost about NOK 13 – 15 million.

The Storting is the principal for the NPD’s seismic data acquisition.

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