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Mar Pollut Bull. 2001 Dec;42(12):1285-90.

Seabirds at risk around offshore oil platforms in the north-west Atlantic.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Atlantic Cooperative Wildlife Ecology Research Network, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Canada.


Seabirds aggregate around oil drilling platforms and rigs in above average numbers due to night lighting, flaring, food and other visual cues. Bird mortality has been documented due to impact on the structure, oiling and incineration by the flare. The environmental circumstances for offshore hydrocarbon development in North-west Atlantic are unique because of the harsh climate, cold waters and because enormous seabird concentrations inhabit and move through the Grand Banks in autumn (storm-petrels, Oceanodroma spp), winter (dovekies, Alle alle, murres, Uria spp), spring and summer (shearwaters, Puffinus spp). Many species are planktivorous and attracted to artificial light sources. Most of the seabirds in the region are long-distance migrants, and hydrocarbon development in the North-west Atlantic could affect both regional and global breeding populations. Regulators need to take responsibility for these circumstances. It is essential to implement comprehensive, independent arm's length monitoring of potential avian impacts of offshore hydrocarbon platforms in the North-west Atlantic. This should include quantifying and determining the nature, timing and extent of bird mortality caused by these structures. Based on existing evidence of potential impacts of offshore hydrocarbon platforms on seabirds, it is difficult to understand why this has not been, and is not being, systematically implemented.

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