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.

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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Ethan Hawke special guest at native water ceremony in Nova Scotia ~ Canadian Press

October 26th, 2015
Actor Ethan Hawke, right, attends the Mi'kmaq community's water ceremony on the shores of Pomquet Harbour to support the aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, near Antigonish, N.S. (Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Actor Ethan Hawke, right, attends the Mi’kmaq community’s water ceremony on the shores of Pomquet Harbour to support the aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, near Antigonish, N.S.
(Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

By: Keith Doucette

ANTIGONISH, N.S. — The Canadian Press

Published Monday, Oct. 26, 2015 5:03PM EDT

Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke has added his star power to efforts by environmentalists and a Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq community who are trying to muster support for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Hawke was the special guest of the Mi’kmaq community’s annual water ceremony held Monday in Pomquet Harbour near Antigonish.

Hawke, who owns land in nearby St. George’s Bay, was asked to attend the event in support of his neighbours.

The actor said he wanted to stand up for “an absolutely magical place” where he has lived for parts of the summer for the past 15 years.

“I’m sure some people are wondering what I’m doing here,” said Hawke. “I’m largely here as your neighbour and your friend and a friend to this area.”

Hawke said the native community members have proven to be trustworthy stewards of the land and it was an honour to take part in their event.

The ceremony involved prayers and offerings by Mi’kmaq elders as the sound of traditional drums and the smell of burning sweetgrass filled the air.

Held each season, it honours the Mi’kmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land, and their resources.

Hawke said he’s glad his celebrity drew media to cover the event. But he also downplayed his participation.

“I know the real difference will be made in other rooms,” he said. “It’s just an opportunity to talk about it. I was invited to be a part of this so I take it seriously.”

The Mi’kmaq and environmental groups want a 12-year moratorium on any potential drilling in the gulf. They say it will take that long to complete a proper and comprehensive environmental assessment of a bio-diverse area of the ocean.

“While Canada’s thinking about drilling out there . . . we are telling them that they can’t do it without talking to the Mi’kmaq,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

Jerome said with a new Liberal government about to take power in Ottawa Canadians need to ask their MPs what they are doing about the gulf.

“Ethan Hawke is here doing something about the gulf, what are you (MPs) doing about the gulf?” he said.

Jerome told a news conference that Atlantic petroleum boards are operating at pace where Nova Scotians don’t feel they have a say about oil drilling.

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the largest marine breeding regions in Canada with more than 2,000 marine species.

The area is home to endangered whales and is also home to a lucrative lobster fishery.

Source: Globe and Mail

Additional Canadian Press coverage appeared in the PEI Guardian

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Ethan Hawke heading to Nova Scotia for native water ceremony ~ MetroNews

October 25th, 2015

By: Ben Cousins
The Canadian Press
Published on Sun Oct 25 2015

ANTIGONISH, N.S. — Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke will be in northern Nova Scotia Monday to help with the Mi’kmaq community’s water ceremony and support the aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Hawke, who owns land in the St. George’s Bay area near Antigonish, was contacted by the local Mi’kmaq community to attend the event in support of his neighbours.

“We trying to show the world that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is not available for oil exploration,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. “It’s a race to get oil as opposed to a race protect the environment.”

“When you look at the state of the environment and climate change, I think we should be racing to protect the land where we can.”

The water ceremony is held in each season to give offerings and honour the Mi’kmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land.

For two years now, the group has been saying there should be a 12-year moratorium to give time to conduct a proper study by a third-party that looks at the Gulf as a whole ecosystem.

Jerome says up until now, studies have only been done by individual provinces.

“The oil is not going to know which side of the border to stop its spill at,” he said. “It’s going to go all over the place.”

“Our salmon do not follow a provincial boundary, they go right through the channel.”

Jerome says officials told him when you combine the provincial studies together, they achieve a comprehensive study for the area.

“For us, that flies in the face of good science.”

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the largest marine breeding regions in Canada with more than 2,000 marine species choosing to spawn, nurse and migrate there year round.

It is also home to endangered whales and hosts some of the largest lobster production in the world.

The Mi’kmaq say the area is a sensitive ecosystem due to its winter ice cover, high winds and counter clockwise currents that only flush into the Atlantic once a year.

Jerome says Atlantic petroleum boards are operating at pace where Nova Scotians don’t feel they have a say about oil drilling.

He says the tourism and fishing industries in the area are obviously concerned, but outside of that, not a whole lot of people really know about what’s going on.

“We want to get people in the Atlantic to become more aware that these kinds of drilling programs are proposed in their water.”

The venue for the water ceremony in Antigonish is also of historical significance.

The site was the location for the events that led to the Marshall Decision.

In 1993, Donald Marshall Jr., a member of the Membertou First Nation, was stopped for fishing in Antigonish County, N.S., for fishing eels without a license.

He claimed he was allowed to catch and sell fish by virtue of a treaty signed with the British Crown.

Six years later, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed Donald Marshall Jr. had a treaty right to catch and sell fish, thus changing the way First Nations people could hunt and catch in Canada.

Source: Metronews.ca

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Ethan Hawke, Mi’kmaq to oppose oil, gas exploration in Gulf of St. Lawrence ~ Chronicle Herald

October 22nd, 2015

TOM AYERS Cape Breton Bureau
Published October 22, 2015 – 11:28am

Oscar-nominated actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke is expected to attend a Mi’kmaq water ceremony on Monday at Paq’tnkek First Nation to support an aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“Ethan Hawke has some land in that area down there,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

“That’s why we were able to convince him to come out and do something with us, because he knows the area right there and he knows about the issue with the Gulf.”

Paq’tnkek Chief Paul (PJ) Prosper will host the secretariat — a group representing three First Nation communities along the Gaspe peninsula — along with Nova Scotia supporters and Innu and Maliseet from around the Gulf, at the ceremony at 1 p.m. on Summerside Road in Afton, Antigonish County.

That is near the site where the late Donald Marshall Jr. was arrested for eel fishing, an affair that ended with a Supreme Court decision in his name that confirmed the aboriginal right to fish.

This week, Shell Canada received approval to begin exploratory drilling off the southwest shore of Nova Scotia, while Corridor Resources, a Halifax junior exploration company, still has an interest in oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Aboriginals aren’t opposed to all petroleum exploration and drilling, said Jerome, but the waters of the Gulf need to be protected to ensure the aboriginal right to fish is not harmed.

Also, the entire region’s economy depends on fishing and tourism, which would be threatened by oil and gas development, he said.

“The Gulf is a very unique ecosystem, as opposed to other bodies of water, so I think there’s a hook there to say that (exploration) could happen in other areas, but in the Gulf, if there is some kind of accident out there, it’s going to devastate the whole economy, right from Halifax all the way to Gaspe and Newfoundland.”

The secretariat is backing a call made last year by Mi’kmaq chiefs and others for a 12-year moratorium on exploration in the Gulf and asking government regulators to commission an independent study of the entire Gulf region, instead of requiring companies to conduct limited studies within a smaller radius from potential exploration sites.

It is also hoping to raise awareness of the issues in the Gulf, where the counterclockwise current could carry pollutants around the shores of the four Atlantic provinces and Quebec, said Jerome, and sea ice in winter could make any cleanup difficult.

And at least three provincial regulatory bodies cover oil and gas development in the Gulf.

“We see this whole Gulf exploration happening under a shroud,” said Jerome. “They’re doing it in public, but the public doesn’t know that they could have a say about what’s happening.

“No one’s drilling right now, and we’re trying to make sure that no drilling occurs. The Mi’kmaq proposed a 12-year moratorium and people came back and said, ‘Why a 12-year moratorium?’

“For us, it’s quite clear that the Gulf is one large ecosystem, and you cannot study it by going to the Newfoundland portion and studying that, going to Quebec and studying that portion, and studying the Nova Scotia portion.”

Source: Chronicle Herald

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Right whales off Cape Breton going the wrong way for shipping, fishing

October 4th, 2015
THE CHRONICLE HERALD
TOM AYERS CAPE BRETON BUREAU
Published September 22, 2015 – 7:47pm
Last Updated September 22, 2015 – 7:58pm
Cape Breton residents are seeing more right whales offshore as the ocean mammals search for food. The top and sides of whales’ heads have raised patches of skin that are black and called callosities. These are the identifying features for distinguishing individual right whales, shown here as they surface off Cape Breton. (MOIRA BROWN / Canadian Whale Institute)

Whales leaving traditional feeding grounds for Gulf of St. Lawrence: oceanographer
Cape Breton residents are seeing more right whales offshore as the ocean mammals search for food. The top and sides of whales’ heads have raised patches of skin that are black and called callosities. These are the identifying features for distinguishing individual right whales, shown here as they surface off Cape Breton. (MOIRA BROWN / Canadian Whale Institute)

Researchers say endangered right whales may be going the wrong way when it comes to shipping lanes and fishing grounds around Cape Breton and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Kim Davies, an oceanographer at Dalhousie University, said that right whales have significantly changed their migration patterns over the last few years.

The endangered marine mammals are leaving their traditional feeding grounds off southern Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy and are increasingly making their way into the Gulf of St. Lawrence to chase food.

“Because these changes in the right whale distribution have been occurring over several years — I think 2011 was the first year they really started disappearing — we’re growing more and more concerned,” said Davies.

Right whales are typically in the region from June to October, chasing large, high-energy zoo-plankton that arrive every summer along with cold Arctic water, she said, and that food source has been largely absent lately from the Roseway Basin off Barrington and from the Bay of Fundy.

It’s not yet clear whether the plankton change is due to global warming or melting Arctic sea ice, Davies said, “but it is climate related.”

Government and industry have worked together to change seasonal shipping and fishing regulations off the South Shore and in the Fundy region to protect right whales, but that work has not been done in the open ocean or the Gulf, she said.

“That is the No. 1 concern,” said Davies.

“We have very good information on shipping, about where vessels are and where fishing takes place in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and across the Scotian Shelf, but we have practically no information about right whales and their migration, outside of their well-known habitats.”

This year, researchers from several organizations kicked a monitoring program into high gear, said Davies. She started surveying off Nova Scotia using underwater drones that listened for whales near offshore oil and gas fields, and some aerial surveys were conducted in the Gulf.

Scientists were surprised to find 35 to 40 right whales near Prince Edward Island and the Gaspe Peninsula, she said.

“They’re popping up in odd places everywhere,” said Davies.

“We heard them out at the shelf break last week, 200 kilometres offshore, which is very concerning because of the oil and gas seismic exploration that’s going to occur there.”

Davies said using underwater drones to listen for right whales, a system can be developed to alert shipping and fishing vessels in the area, but that work is just starting.

Moira Brown, a senior scientist at the Canadian Whale Institute, said the right whale population has been growing again over the last few years, with more than 500 individuals identified in the area, but more effort is needed to monitor the population’s shifting migration patterns.

They are being spotted regularly by whale watching tours off Cape Breton and by others in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and are also appearing off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, she said.

“In fact, there have been more sightings (this year) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence than there have been in their two critical habitats in the Bay of Fundy and the Roseway Basin,” she said.

The whales have always travelled to the Gulf, said Brown, but not in great numbers.

“There’s no doubt that we are very data poor on that end. It’s certainly time to get up there and do more surveys.”

Davies said two right whales were entangled this summer in fishing gear off Ingonish, and both were released. One was rescued by a group from Newfoundland after a buoy rope became wrapped around its tail. In the other instance, a right whale was penned inside a mackerel net.

The Whale Release and Strandings Group, based in St. Philip’s, N.L., was sent to Cape Breton in July to look for an entangled humpback when it came across one of the right whales, said Julie Huntington, education co-ordinator with the group.

“It’s great that we were there and able to respond,” she said.

Brown and Davies said that with the changing migration patterns, it wouldn’t be surprising if Fisheries and Oceans Canada was concerned about right whales getting tangled in fishing gear.

No one from the department was available for comment Tuesday.

 

Link to this story

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Quebec First Nations take legal action against Belledune oil terminal ~ CBC News

July 8th, 2015

Ask New Brunswick court to quash construction permit issued to Chaleur Terminals Inc., cite failure to consult
CBC News
Jul 07, 2015

Mi’gmaq communities in the Gaspé region have take legal action against the New Brunswick government and Chaleur Terminals Inc., in a bid to halt construction of an oil terminal in Belledune, N.B.

Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation and the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat filed a notice of application with the Court of Queen’s Bench in Campbellton, N.B., on Monday.

They are seeking to quash the approval to construct permit, environmental approval permit and site approval issued to Chaleur Terminals by the New Brunswick Department of Environment earlier this year.

The band and not-for-profit corporation allege the provincial government has breached its “ongoing duty to consult and to seek to reach a reasonable accommodation with the applicants,” according to the court documents.

They want the court to issue an order prohibiting the government from issuing any further permits, approvals or authorizations to Chaleur Terminals “until such time as the province of New Brunswick has fulfilled its obligations to the applicants.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The New Brunswick government and Chaleur Terminals have not yet filed responses with the court.

Sacred duty to protect salmon

Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, contends the proposed project is in violation of aboriginal title, rights and treaties.

He says his people have a sacred duty to protect the salmon in the Matapedia and Restigouche rivers, along which the oil would be carried in rail cars.

​”Our people here fish salmon. If you look out on the river today, they’re out there fishing salmon. It’s our way of life. We’ve been doing that for thousands of years and we went and [did] what we had to do to defend our way of life in terms of protecting the salmon,” he said.

‘If there’s even one rail tank that spills into that river, it’s a lot more important to us than those 40 jobs.’- Troy Jerome, Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat

“We are one with the salmon. So the salmon [are] looking to us to protect them, and they provide us nourishment, so we have that kind of relationship, that direct relationship. And Chaleur Terminals right now, they’re talking about a couple of jobs, even up to 40 jobs — if there’s even one rail tank that spills into that river, it’s a lot more important to us than those 40 jobs.”

220 rail cars of Alberta oil daily

Chaleur Terminals, a subsidiary of Alberta-based Secure Energy Services, purchased 250 acres from the Port of Belledune last year. It plans to transport Alberta crude oil to Belledune by rail, for marine export abroad.

Construction is expected to start at the end of 2015 or 2016 and take about 18 months. Once complete, the project would see about 220 rail cars carrying oil to Belledune every day.

Jerome says people in the Gaspé area don’t have much faith in CN Railway after upgrades earlier this year caused irreversible damage to the local salmon population, according to anglers.

And he says efforts to discuss the project with the provincial and federal governments have so far not resulted in proper engagement.

In April, CN Railway dumped 6,000 tonnes of rocks on the side of its tracks to prevent erosion — and right into an important salmon breeding ground in the Matapedia River, causing irreversible damage, according to Quebec’s Atlantic Salmon Federation.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) officials have said the rail company didn’t respect its maintenance work permit when it dumped the rocks during an important time in the Atlantic salmon breeding cycle.

A total of 22 municipalities in Quebec have voiced opposition to Chaleur Terminals’ project in Belledune.

Local politicians in New Brunswick, however, have said they welcome the estimated 200 jobs it will create during construction and 40 permanent full-time jobs once it’s in operation.

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/quebec-first-nations-take-legal-action-against-belledune-oil-terminal-1.3141269

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