Category Archives: Marine life in the Gulf

With over 2,000 species in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, this section could be much larger! Included here is info about various species, including endangered species, and the threats posed by the fossil fuel industry.

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Hollywood actor Ethan Hawke lends his voice to the fight to save North Atlantic right whales | The Star

A short documentary narrated by the four-time Academy Award nominee called The Vanishing Call of the Right Whale was unveiled Tuesday in Halifax. Environmentalists are using the documentary to pressure politicians to ban seismic blasting in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where the whales spend the summer.

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Join Ethan Hawke- Help Save Right Whales & Save The Gulf of Saint Lawrence

We need your help. Please sign Sierra Club Canada’s letter and share this message to get our leaders to finally hear the deafening blasts that whales endure every single minute of every day when seismic blasting is happening.

Sierra Club Canada

A national and grassroots non-profit organization committed to protecting our environment, communities, and future

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Eliza Knockwood, Ethan Hawke, Gretchen Fitzgerald & Mary Gorman
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Media Advisory

May 11th, 2019

For immediate release: May 9th, 2019

Ethan Hawke Lending His Voice to Film, New Campaign to Protect Whales and Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Halifax, NS – Starchild Production’s new film The Vanishing Call of the Right Whale featuring Ethan Hawke and Dr. Linda Weilgart will premiere on May 14th in Halifax, NS. The film will kick off a new campaign to protect endangered whales in Canadian waters from the impacts of seismic blasting.

WHO: Save Our Seas and Shores, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, Starchild Productions, Sierra Club US, Clean Ocean Action Committee

WHAT: The Vanishing Call of the Right Whale Film Screening & Campaign Launch.

WHERE: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Windsor Foundation Theatre (Granville St. Entrance), Halifax NS

WHEN: 10:30 AM – 12:00 NOON, Tuesday May 14th, 2019

Please note Ethan Hawke will not be attending this event.

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For more information, please contact:

Mary Gorman, Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition, mjgorman@ns.sympatico.ca 902-759-5963

Gretchen Fitzgerald, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, gretchenf@sierraclub.ca 902-444-7096

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The Gulf of St. Lawrence is Losing Oxygen Faster Than Almost Any Other Marine Environment

The Gulf of St. Lawrence in eastern Canada is rapidly losing oxygen, declining by as much as 55 percent in some spots since the 1930s – compared to a 2 percent drop globally. Now, new research has found that the region’s dramatic oxygen decline is due largely to climate change and shifts in the major ocean currents that feed the gulf.

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Add your voice! – PEIslanders lobby Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources to remove the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board’s (C-NLOPB) mandate

February 4th, 2016

Defenders of the Gulf of St. Lawrence who live on Prince Edward Island are telling James Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, and his provincial counterpart in Newfoundland and Labrador Siobhan Coady that it is time to pull the plug on the C-NLOPB.

This action follows the publication of Ellie Reddin’s Jan 27th article in the Journal Pioneer and PEI’s The Guardian, which pointed out a series of irresponsible, biased decisions made by the C-NLOPB over the past several years, including their recent decision to provide Corridor Resources a third extension on their exploration license for the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In her followup letter to the Ministers, Reddin wrote: “Citing regulatory factors as its reason, the [C-NLOPB] also waived, for the third time in four years, the $1 million deposit required for a licence extension. The “regulatory factors” the Board referred to is the requirement for public and Aboriginal consultations which the Board must hold as part of the environmental assessment for this project.”

“Decisions, including the recent free extension of Corridor Resources licence, appear to have been rubber-stamped by the federal and NL Ministers of Natural Resources. Only NL benefits from oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf, while the other four Gulf provinces share the risks. The protection of marine species and the rights of the First Nations, fishers, and other residents of the Gulf provinces to protect the Gulf ecosystem and pursue their livelihoods are being ignored.”

In light of the failure of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to act in a responsible manner, SOSS PEI is calling on it’s members to write to the Ministers to demand that the federal and Newfoundland and Labrador governments to remove the Board’s mandate pertaining to offshore oil and gas exploration and development activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

See SOSS PEI full letter to federal Minister James Carr, and NL Minister of Natural Resources Siobhan Coady here.

The Gulf needs your support. Add your voice to SOSS PEI’s by sending a short email message to the Ministers – here’s is a sample message you could copy and paste, or personalize as you wish:

Dear Ministers:

I am writing to express my support for the letter you recently received from SOSS PEI regarding the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. As outlined in the letter, the C-NLOPB has shown by its actions and decisions over the past several years that it is failing to carry out its responsibility to protect the Gulf environment. As Ministers responsible for the C-NLOPB, please act to remove the Board’s mandate pertaining to oil and gas exploration and development activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

(Your Name)
(Your home community and province)

Email addresses for the two Ministers are:
Minister.Ministre@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca and siobhancoady@gov.nl.ca

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Mary Gorman, Save Our Seas and Shores, passionate speaker at Pa’qtnkek Water Ceremony, October 26, 2015

February 1st, 2016

Mary Gorman of the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition (SOSS), speaks passionately for protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence at Pa’qtnkek Water Ceremony with Ethan Hawke, October 26, 2015.

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Actor Ethan Hawke joins Mi’kmaq leaders’ call for 12-year drilling moratorium in Gulf of St. Lawrence ~ Kukukwes.com

November 17th, 2015

Award-winning journalist Maureen Googoo, owner/editor of Kukukwes.com covered this story. The  excerpts and photographs below come from the complete article on Kukukwes.com, an independent Aboriginal news organization.

From left, Troy Jerome, Ethan Hawke, Listuguj Chief Scott Martin and Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper take part in water ceremony Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

From left, Troy Jerome, Ethan Hawke, Listuguj Chief Scott Martin and Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper take part in water ceremony Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“Mi’kmaq leaders from Listuguj, Gespeg and Gespegagiag in Quebec – which form the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat – worked with officials with Paqtnkek and the Save Our Seas and Shores coalition to ask the Hollywood actor help them raise awareness about the negative effects of offshore drilling in the Gulf area.”

“Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat in Quebec, said Canada should not allow offshore drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence without first consulting with and speaking to the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet and Innu peoples.”

L to R Mary Gorman (Save Our Seas and Shores); Listuguj Chief Scott Martin; Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper; actor Ethan Hawke and Troy Jerome executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. (Photo: Stephen Brake)

L to R Mary Gorman (Save Our Seas and Shores); Listuguj Chief Scott Martin; Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper; actor Ethan Hawke and Troy Jerome executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“And the way to speak to Mi’kmaq is to bring one comprehensive study that shows the body of water, the Gulf as one ecosystem and what could happen if there’s drilling,” Jerome said at the news conference.”

Ethan Hawke took part in a water ceremony in Paqtnkek along the shores of Pomquet Harbour Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

Ethan Hawke took part in a water ceremony in Paqtnkek along the shores of Pomquet Harbour Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

Source: Kukuwes.com

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Gulf should be off limits, no matter the price of oil ~ OpEd Chronicle Herald

November 17th, 2015

The Gulf of St. Lawrence as seen from space. “Highly significant ecological areas such the Gulf should be top on our list to declare off-limits, whether oil is at $40 or $400 a barrel,” writes Gretchen Fitzgerald of the Sierra Club. (NASA)

The Gulf of St. Lawrence as seen from space. “Highly significant ecological areas such the Gulf should be top on our list to declare off-limits, whether oil is at $40 or $400 a barrel,” writes Gretchen Fitzgerald of the Sierra Club. (NASA)

GRETCHEN FITZGERALD
Chronicle Herald
November 16, 2015

Your Nov. 7 Weekend Focus: “Oil, Water and Old Harry” got it wrong when it implied that oil prices are the most important obstacle to oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The implication of this slant is that if oil prices rise, we will see development go ahead. The article also got it wrong when it implied that the threat of one oil well was insignificant to the Gulf’s ecology and economy. Finally, the article also ignored the fact that a single well, as damaging as it could be, is merely the toehold for future development, and that in the context of global climate change, it is imperative we shift away from these dangerous fossil fuel projects.

Groups have been fighting oil and gas development in the Gulf long before oil prices dipped. As the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore petroleum board acknowledged in 2010, they had never received such an intense public response to a project before they announced they were considering exploration at Old Harry in the middle of the Gulf.

This is because the Gulf is a unique place that is particularly vulnerable to oil development — and many people, from fishermen to scientists to national environmental groups such as Sierra Club feel strongly about this. This opposition will outlast the vagaries of oil price fluctuations.

Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director, Atlantic Canada chapter, Sierra Club Canada (Photo: Flickr)

Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director, Atlantic Canada chapter, Sierra Club Canada (Photo: Flickr)

Granted, because there has been no arm’s-length, ecosystem-wide assessment for oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it is difficult to figure out what the whole story is.

Although a single ecosystem, parts of Gulf waters are considered jurisdiction of five eastern provinces and the federal government. The Gulf is also considered traditional territory for indigenous communities that have fished and lived on its shores for millennia. Our previous federal government’s lack of ability or willingness to play a co-ordinating role to oversee complex, inter-jurisdictional issues like the Gulf has added to the confusion.

As I write, consultations are underway in Quebec to assess the impacts of developing provincial petroleum resources, and mirror legislation has been passed provincially and introduced federally to create a management scheme similar to our offshore Accord Act — potentially opening up the Quebec portion of the Gulf to development.

Similarly, consultations are underway in Newfoundland to assess fracking, and the area that has experienced the most intense interest from fracking companies is located in the Gulf, off the West Coast of Newfoundland.

As we witnessed when the BP spill spewed billions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, quickly followed by a toxic brew of dispersant chemicals designed to hide the oil under the surface (chemicals that oil companies can now be permitted to use in Canada), an exploratory well can have devastating impacts.

Only one-quarter of the three billion barrels of crude spilled in the BP disaster is accounted for, and tar balls still wash up on beaches. Mangroves that are nurseries for sea life — similar to the salt marshes in our Gulf of St. Lawrence —have been damaged or destroyed. Dolphins have been poisoned by the oil, and marine mammal strandings have spiked since the spill.

Oil and chemical traces are found in fish and shellfish in the Gulf of Mexico, with unknown consequences for their development and the food chain. Imagine the impact of a similar spill on the marine mammals, sea turtles and fish that now live in our Gulf — which is six times smaller in size than the Gulf of Mexico.

As the BP spill illustrated, one exploratory well is certainly enough to damage our Gulf and the communities it supports. But one well would probably lead to others, increasing the risk with each additional project.

In the weeks leading up to UN negotiations on climate change in Paris, we need to acknowledge that some oil will need to be left in the ground to secure our future. Highly significant ecological areas such the Gulf should be top on our list to declare off-limits, whether oil is at $40 or $400 a barrel.

Gretchen Fitzgerald is director, Atlantic Canada chapter, Sierra Club Canada Foundation.

Source: Chronicle Herald

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Dispersants did not help oil degrade in Gulf of Mexico BP spill – new study

November 10th, 2015

When the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout spewed 5-million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, one of the main tools used against the oil was a chemical dispersant called Corexit. 7-million litres of this detergent-like chemical was used to break up oil slicks, in part to disperse the oil into the water and prevent contamination of coastlines, birds, and marine mammals.

It was also thought that dissolving the slicks like this would increase the rate at which natural bacteria would bio-degrade the oil. But work by Dr. Samantha Joye, a microbiologist in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia, and her colleagues, has shown that Corexit seems to inhibit, rather than facilitate, the ability of microbes to break down oil, leaving the toxic oil in the water for longer.

This throws into question a big part of the case for using chemical dispersant on oil spills.

Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, studies the oil plumes generated by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout. (Credit: Todd Dickey/University of Georgia)

Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, studies the oil plumes generated by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout. (Credit: Todd Dickey/University of Georgia)

“The dispersants did a great job in that they got the oil off the surface,” Joye said. “What you see is the dispersants didn’t ramp up biodegradation.”

In fact, she found the oil with no dispersant “degraded a heckuva lot faster than the oil with dispersants,” Joye said.

Joye’s team chronicled nearly 50,000 species of bacteria in the Gulf and what they did to the water with oil, and water with oil and dispersant.

One of the main groups of oil munchers are fat little sausage-shaped bacteria called marinobacters, Joye said. They eat oil all the time and comprise about 3 percent of the bacteria in normal water. But when there’s oil, they eat and multiply like crazy until they are as much as 42 percent of the bacteria, Joye said.

But when the dispersant was applied, they didn’t grow. They stayed around 3 percent, Joye said.

Instead, a different family of bugs called colwellia multiplied more, and they don’t do nearly as good a job at munching the oil, Joye said. She theorized that for some reason the dispersant and marinobacters just don’t work together.

So if the oil wasn’t degraded by the bacteria, the question remains: Where did it go? Joye guesses it might still be on the floor of the gulf.

Should authorities avoid dispersants in the future? “That’s an extraordinarily complicated question,” says Joye. Corexit has its problems, but it does seem to keep oil away from coasts. “Nobody wants to see oiled birds, turtles, and dolphins, but the bottom line is that if you disperse that oil, it’s still in the water. You feel better, but is it improving the situation? My gut instinct is that I would put my faith in the microbial communities to do their job.”

Sources:
Listen to CBC podcast interview with Dr. Samantha Joye
Associated Press
The Atlantic

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