Researchers call for offshore oil action as Newfoundland seabirds vanish

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Millions of seabirds have vanished since offshore oil production started off Newfoundland 20 years ago, and researchers say there’s an urgent need to better monitor related environmental effects.

They say a colony of small nocturnal birds called Leach’s storm petrels has shrunk dramatically.

Biologist Gail Fraser of York University says there’s a glaring lack of consistent scientific monitoring and independent oversight.

She says the federal-provincial regulator for offshore sites doesn’t require all operators to assess how often the birds are killed when they fly into artificial light.

She says the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board should require all operators to use light deflectors and allow independent observers.

Seabird specialist Bill Montevecchi of Memorial University of Newfoundland says there’s a conflict of interest as operators self-report environmental incidents for which they’re liable.

The Canadian Press

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