For Immediate Release
September 11, 2012
Coalition Walks in Silence For A Moratorium on Oil and Gas Development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Urge Energy Ministers to Protect Gulf’s Renewable Beauty and Bounty
CHARLOTTETOWN – Save Our Seas and Shores, a multi-provincial coalition of coastal landowners, fishermen, tourism, indigenous and environmental groups, are holding a quiet walk today to urge Canada’s Energy Ministers to call for a moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
“We are walking in silence to convey our grave concern about the profound damage offshore oil and gas development could do to our Gulf. We hope the energy ministers will take a moment to pause and reflect on the beauty, richness, diversity and renewable bounty our Gulf provides.” said Ellie Reddin, of Cornwall, PEI.
The Gulf of St. Lawrence is home to over 2,000 marine species, many of which are endangered. Six and a half times smaller than the Gulf of Mexico, it is a semi-landlocked inland sea with counter-clockwise currents. Because it only exchanges its waters with the Atlantic once a year and due to strong tides within the Gulf, any oil contamination could be widespread along the coastlines of NS, NB, PEI, QC and NL over the course of a year.
“It makes no sense whatsoever to jeopardize our valuable marine beauty and renewable resources to access non-renewable fossil fuels that should be left in the ground,” said Reddin.
The Coalition is concerned about ‘Old Harry’ and other leases recently issued by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) before adequate study of the potentially dire environmental and economic risk such reckless development could pose.
“Without widespread public concern and action, petroleum development in the deep waters and fishing grounds of the Gulf of St Lawrence will proceed, under stripped down environmental legislation that does not even require assessment of seismic surveys and exploratory wells! This is a huge risk to an ecosystem already heavily damaged by land based pollution, declining oxygen, rising temperatures and rapidly increasing acidity. Bear in mind that the Gulf of Mexico BP Macondo disaster was an exploratory well and years later, fish are now surfacing with horrible deformities.” said Dr. Irene Novaczek, a marine biologist and Director of the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI.
The Gulf’s multi-billion dollar fishery and tourism industries provide jobs for over 50,000 Canadians in five provinces and this revenue goes directly back into provincial economies – unlike oil revenues, which primarily profit domestic and foreign shareholders. The Coalition contends that the Gulf should be placed under moratorium because it is too fragile for any oil and gas development.
“Oil and gas companies say they will mitigate risk. But mitigation can only happen if enough science exists to determine how to mitigate. Because of the profound knowledge gaps on Gulf species (e.g. little is known about early life stages of marine organisms or habitat requirements of all life stages) it would be irresponsible and a betrayal of the public interest for our governments to proceed with this development” said Mary Gorman of Merigomish, NS.
“Offshore oil companies may be experts at extraction, but they are nowhere near experts at reducing destruction caused by seismic blasting, or eliminating the risks of exploratory and production well blowouts. Nor do they know how to clean up oil spills before damage occurs, particularly in our Gulf with its high winds and winter ice cover” said Gorman. The Coalition says, if energy ministers and political leaders are not convinced there should be a moratorium, they should look at it this way. If the oil companies are wrong, in twenty years the fish will be gone and the oil and gas will be gone. If we’re wrong, in twenty years, the fish will still be there and the oil and gas will still be there.