Effects of 2D seismic on the snow crab fishery

TitleEffects of 2D seismic on the snow crab fishery
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsMorris, C. J., Cote D., Martin B., and Kehler D.
JournalFisheries Research
ISBN Number0165-7836
EndNote Rec Number11698
KeywordsCommercial fishing, Marine noise, Seismic exploration, Snow crab

Sound is used by a variety of marine taxa for feeding, reproduction, navigation and predator avoidance and therefore alterations to the soundscape from industrial noise have the potential to negatively affect an animal’s fitness. Furthermore, responses to industrial noise would also have the potential to negatively influence commercial fishing interests. Unfortunately marine invertebrates are generally underrepresented in the seismic effects literature. Snow crab harvesters in Atlantic Canada contend that seismic noise from widespread hydrocarbon exploration has strong negative effects on catch rates. We repeated a Before-After-Control-Impact study over two years to assess the effects of industry scale seismic exposure on catch rates of snow crab along the continental slope of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Our results did not support the contention that seismic activity negatively affects catch rates in shorter term (i.e. within days) or longer time frames (weeks). However, significant differences in catches were observed across study areas and years. While the inherent variability of the CPUE data limited the statistical power of this study, our results do suggest that if seismic effects on snow crab harvests do exist, they are smaller than changes related to natural spatial and temporal variation.