Offshore exploration ban sought – Seismic blasts harm whales, says scientist (Chronicle Herald)

Offshore exploration ban sought
Seismic blasts harm whales, says scientist

Bill Power
Business Reporter
The Chronicle Herald
1 August 2012

An ear-splitting recording of a seismic blast, and a disturbing image of a whale bleeding from its eyes.

These audio-visual tools became part of the opposition war chest Wednesday, as yet another call was heard for an exploration and drilling moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“When a whale hears a seismic blast, it panics and falls out of its normal diving pattern, sometimes with catastrophic results,” scientist Lindy Weilgart said after a news conference in Halifax.

The event was hosted by opponents of oil and gas exploration in the gulf.

Weilgart, an international seismic expert, and researcher Thomas Duck, an expert in remote sensing, joined representatives of the Green Party of Canada and the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition at the media event.

Aggressive moves recently by the federal government to open up oil and gas exploration on Canadian coasts have occurred at the same time cutbacks have impaired the capacity of the scientific community to monitor sensitive ecological systems, said Duck.

“Without science to guide our decision-making processes, we cannot be assured we’re making good decisions,” he said.

The media event was held in Halifax, where Corridor Resources Inc., is headquartered. The company wants to drill an exploratory well at the Old Harry site near Iles-de-la-Madeleine.

Corridor Resources has applied to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board for environmental approval to drill the exploratory well before 2014.

Corridor Resources president Phillip Knoll was not immediately available for comment, but he said recently that the company is following strict environmental protocols in its exploratory work.

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green party, said the elimination of federal regulations for offshore development is likely to have dire consequences for the gulf.

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper has just spent the past few months pushing through his pro-oil budget and omnibus Bill C-38, and now he thinks nothing can stop him,” said May.

There is not any offshore oil and gas exploration underway in areas that fall under the purview of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, said a spokeswoman.

However, Shell secured exploration rights for four parcels off the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia in January of this year.

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