The impact of fracking on the fishing industry

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Replacing coal as a fuel for electricity could benefit the environment rising supplies of natural gas, but according to Mark Golden, author of the article entitled, “Stanford-led study assesses the environmental costs and benefits of fracking “on Stanford News on September 12, 2014, a new analysis found that hydraulic fracturing poses dangers for people living near the wells.

Fracking increases air and water pollution, the potential for oil spills, which can harm the soil and surrounding vegetation. Due to the high pressure used to extract oil and gas from rock and the storage of excess wastewater on-site, fracking can cause earthquakes.

In his article entitled, “Pros and cons of fracking: 5 key issues”, on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, in the Yale Climate Connections, John Wihbey, accredits the issue with fracking due to the extraction, which causes between 44 and 50 percent of the greenhouse gas emission leakage to compare with burning coal. Since coal is the biggest threat to our atmosphere, the priority must be to reduce reliance on it.

POLICY RESOLUTION 159: FRACKING

The Policy Resolution 159 on Fracking by the Liberal Party of Canada under the leadership Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada states the following:

WHEREAS fracking continues to occur throughout our country with each proposal creating controversy where many of the same issues are brought forward without resolution;

WHEREAS the fracking discourse is rarely grounded in factual or objective assessment, and many members of the public believe that a situation has developed where an entire industry has been given special consideration when it comes to secretly contaminating Canada’s freshwater supply;

WHEREAS the chemicals used are not assessed due to arguments of proprietary or trade secrets;

WHEREAS residents in the Northwest Territories have the right to know what the best practices are and what the industry can put in the ground to assist with the shale gas production;

WHEREAS residents in the Northwest Territories have the right to protect the environment and the public trust;

WHEREAS decision-makers throughout the entire country at all levels must be able to take economic, social and environmental considerations into account in order to support economic development and the environment for future generations;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada proposes a National Environmental Assessment of Fracking that will:

  • optimize positive environmental effects and minimize or mitigate negative environmental effects;
  • consider potential cumulative environmental effects;
  • implement a Sustainable Development Strategy;
  • save time and money by drawing attention to potential liabilities for environmental clean-up and other unforeseen concerns;
  • streamline project-level environmental assessment;
  • promote accountability and credibility among the general public and stakeholders; and
  • contribute to broader environmental policy commitments and obligations.

As contra result which was suggested by a Research conducted by Cornell was that leaked methane – a powerful greenhouse gas – from wells essentially wipes out any greenhouse gas benefits of natural gas derived from fracking. While more energy use will be encouraged due to the falling natural gas prices, this will also have a negative impact on incentives to invest in solar, wind, and other renewables, as they will be diminished.

People are concerned that fracking threatens human health by contaminating drinking water supplies. Others have stated that it is highly unlikely that well-run drilling operations, which involve extracting oil and gas from thousands of feet down in the ground, are creating cracks that allow chemicals to reach relatively shallow aquifers and surface water supplies. Drinking water and oil and gas deposits are at very different levels in the ground. To the extent that there are problems, we must make sure companies pay more attention to the surface operations and the top 500 to 1,000 feet of piping.

In April 2015, another major study, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, confirming that high-volume hydraulic fracturing techniques can contaminate drinking water. Reports by citizens in other countries demonstrate that as increased methane produced fouled tap water and turned the water flammable and bubbly. When these blowouts are a complete hazard to the environment. One in five chemicals involved in the fracking process is still classified as trade secrets, creating trust issues. Although  FracFocus.org was created as a disclosure strategy, it does not provide sufficient information. The danger appears when many companies cut corners out in the field, no matter the federal, provincial, or municipal regulations the government tries to impose.

Geologists noted in the 2014 Annual Reviews of Environment and resources paper, that there was a steady increase in earthquakes between 1967 and 2000 as a result of growth in the energy sources. If it has been observed that fracking wells, drilled thousands of feet down, may change geology in a potentially negative way, leading to earthquakes, why has it not been banned?

New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Quebec are the four out of Canada’s 10 provinces that currently have province-wide bans on fracking.

“When we put these frack fluids in, the fluids themselves generate chemicals that have detrimental biological effects,” said University of Alberta biologist Greg Goss stated in a CBC News post by Bob WeberThe Canadian Press · Posted: Jan 24, 2017 that frack fluids generate chemicals that have detrimental biological effects on fish.

Research has found that liquids released from fracked oil and gas wells can harm fish even at low concentrations.

“The real risk comes from the disposal process, where (companies) have to truck it to a new site or pipeline it to a new site,” Goss said Tuesday. “If we do have a spill, what are the concerns they have to worry about?”

His paper notes that Alberta has experienced more than 2,500 such spills between 2011 and 2014.

Although rainbow trout were exposed to minimal “sub-lethal” levels of such fluids by Researchers, oxidative stress showed a significant impact on their livers and gill. The chemical found in the water forced the liver and gill cells to age and die more quickly and associated with damage to membranes.

In additional and separate studies, hormone (endocrine-disrupting effects) disruptions caused by the water were absorbed by the fish.

Goss said, in this interview “There’s the potential that some of the fluids may be similar in the effects that you would see from municipal wastewater, where you might see feminization of animals.”

To reduce the toxicity from the water before it is transported, perhaps this industry can filter the sediments in the water.

This will impact the fishing industry in Portugal, that fish in Canadian water and the livelihood of Portuguese fishermen and industries in British Columbia, Southern Ontario, and Atlantic Canada. The Portuguese were fishing in the Grand Banks of Newfoundland in the early 16th century, along with Europeans, including the English, French, Spanish, and Basques. Cod was the most valuable commodity because it was plentiful, easy-to-catch. Because it was dried or salted, it could be transported long distances and had a long life. The fishing season was from Spring until the early Fall.

We all play a major role in contributing to a sustainable world and protecting the environment. We need to support the ban on plastics, fracking, and oil pipelines. These are major contributors to create long term damage to the water, producing periods of hardship and unemployment for our fishing industries, employees, and a negative impact on our health, especially those following a pescatarian diet. 

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This article was developed with the support of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada, under the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) program, strengthening the voice of small Portuguese-speaking communities in remote areas of Canada. Creative Commons Attribution: CC by BrazilianWave.org

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