Seismic results from Lofoten and Vesterålen

In a new report presenting analyses of catch data from Lofoten and Vesterålen in the summer of 2008, the Institute of Marine Research concludes that, with the exception of gillnet fishing for saithe and haddock, there are no documented negative effects from seismic acquisition.

There were no proven changes in catch rates for cod, ling, cusk and halibut, while there appears to have been an increase as regards catch rates for redfish and monkfish while the seismic acquisition activity took place. The catch rates for gillnet fishing for saithe and haddock were reduced, but no reduction could be documented in the saithe or haddock catches made using other types of fishing gear (longline, hand line and Danish seine). In the study area as a whole, about 45 per cent less saithe was delivered than in the peak years 2006 and 2007, however the catches were not lower than in the period 2003 – 2005.

The decline in saithe catches was greatest in Vesterålen and outside Senja. Here there was a decline in the catch rates in the summer (during the seismic acquisition), while the catch rates for September-October (after the seismic data acquisition was concluded) showed no statistical deviation from previous years. In the area around Lofoten, the total catches of saithe remained low from May through November.

On assignment from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), the Institute of Marine Research has reviewed the databases for the reported catches while the NPD acquired seismic data in the waters off Lofoten and Vesterålen during the period 20 May to 15 September 2008. This work is presented in the report entitled “Analysis of collected catch data to study the effect of seismic surveys on the fisheries in Lofoten and Vesterålen in the summer of 2008.” However, the databases are not designed for this purpose, and are structured in a way that makes it difficult to register minor changes in catch rates over time and space. The bulk of the seismic acquisition activity in the summer of 2008 was so-called 2D shooting, which was very spread out in time and space, and must thus also be expected to have only a modest impact on the fisheries.

In addition to the analyses of data mentioned above, catch data was also collected from vessels fishing with gillnet and longline in specific positions before, during and after the seismic surveys took place. These data proved to be poorly suited to document the effects of seismic acquisition on catches. There were substantial variations in the catch volumes from delivery to delivery, and there were too few catches delivered in the periods before and during the seismic surveys in order to be able to prove any changes resulting from the 2D seismic shooting.

The Institute of Marine Research is now working on a comprehensive volume of data from a large research project in connection with the NPD’s 3D seismic acquisition outside Vesterålen in the summer of 2009. The results of this project will be published by 1 March 2010.


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