Category Archives: Threats to Jobs

Fishery and tourism are multi-billion dollar industries. An oil spill in the Gulf of St. Lawrence threatens these jobs.

‘Nothing alive’ in Port au Port Bay because of oil spill, fisherman says ~ CBC news

June 18th, 2015

CBC News Posted: Jun 10, 2015 10:25 AM NT

Reports of oil spilling into Newfoundland’s Port au Port Bay from old drilling sites is a growing concern for fishermen in the area.

Fishermen and residents in the Port au Port region are reporting a significant amount of oil seepage in the ocean waters surrounding the area. (Submitted to CBC by Aiden Mahoney)

Fishermen and residents in the Port au Port region are reporting a significant amount of oil seepage in the ocean waters surrounding the area. (Submitted to CBC by Aiden Mahoney)

Bill O’Gorman, a scallop diver and chair of the local fishery committee, says it’s been trying to get Ottawa and the province to clean up the area around Shoal Point for years after a noticeable decline in marine life in the region such as scallops, lobsters and barnacles.

“There’s nothing alive over there,” O’Gorman said. “There’s nothing sticking to the boats anymore, or the wharves. You don’t find that any more because there’s a constant spill and a slick — an oil slick that’s there every day, and every night, all the time.”

Photo: Aiden Mahoney

O’Gorman says oil leakage is nothing new for the area, as drilling operations have been taking place there since the late 1800s.

“There’s been oil leakage there for the last 50-60 years,” he told CBC News.

“Fisherman have been using that oil to stain their sheds and to oil their rollers and to paint their fence posts.”

He blames the spill for the collapse of the region’s scallop fishery, and has been trying to get some level of government to do something about it.

“We would like to see some department, provincial or federal, remedy this situation,” he said.

“This is going to cause a complete collapse of the fishery in Port au Port Bay.”

O’Gorman said he has video that proves the oil slick has intensified as of late, and said at this point you can clearly dip your hand in the water and pick up crude oil as a result.

He said, if it comes to it, the committee will start looking at ways to get attention such as protests and marches.

As well, he worries about how future drilling activity will compound the problem if something isn’t done to clean up the damage that is already done.

“It’s about time that something was done about it,” he said.

“If they can’t control traditional drilling that happened 50 and 75 years ago, what are they going to do with this new technology, fracking?”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/nothing-alive-in-port-au-port-bay-because-of-oil-spill-fisherman-says-1.3107386

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Interprovincial Panel Explores Impacts of Fossil Fuel Development in Newfoundland

February 15th, 2015

On Sunday, February 1st, 2015, a public forum and panel discussion was held in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University. Forum Photo Irene with CaptionThe panel included Irene Novaczek, adjunct professor of Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island; Chief Mi’sel Joe of the Conne River Mi’kmaq Tribal Nation; and economist Michael Bradfield, a member of Nova Scotia’s review panel for hydraulic fracturing..
The forum and panel presentations made the connections between the issue of Hydraulic Fracturing or Fracking in Newfoundland and Labrador and broader regional concerns related to oil development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The meeting was well attended, as well as informative, with many community members sharing viewpoints in a lively public forum on the health and welfare of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, oil development and fracking.

The forum was organized and hosted by representatives of the Social Justice Co-operative http://www.socialjusticecoopnl.ca/ and Newfoundland and Labrador representatives of the  Save our Seas and Shores  organization   http://saveourseasandshores.ca/  as well as other supportive individuals in the community.

For further coverage on the public forum, The Western Star and The Telegram have published excellent articles on the event. Bob Diamond’s Letter to the Editor of the Western Star offers a wonderful summary of the afternoon panel and discussion. The public forum is available to view in its entirety here.

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St. Lawrence Coalition Releases Gulf 101 Report

June 12th, 2014
Credit: Andrea Schaffer via Flickr
Credit: Andrea Schaffer via Flickr

After four years of research by the St. Lawrence Coalition, Gulf 101 – Oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence: Facts, Myths, and Future Outlook was released last week (June 10th 2014) in tandem with World Oceans Week. The report explores the facts and myths surrounding oil exploration and exploitation in the Gulf as well as possible future scenarios that may result from these activities.

The 80-page report highlights our lack of understanding towards the ecosystems within the Gulf as well as the oceans currents and other environmental components found there. The environment of the Gulf is subject to conditions that are not seen in other areas of oil development such as winter ice that would make cleaning up an oil spill almost impossible, threatening the destruction of the slowly recovering cod stocks as well as the currently thriving fisheries and tourism industries that so many communities depend on.

The report provides true insight for why Save Our Seas and Shores and the St. Lawrence Coalition asks you to lend your support to a moratorium on oil and gas in the Gulf. Go here to take action!

The Gulf 101 Report generated massive media attention in all five Gulf provinces. Here is a selection:

Newfoundland

The Telegram: http://www.thetelegram.com/News/Local/2014-06-09/article-3755759/Group-calls-for-oil-and-gas-moratorium-in-the-Gulf-of-St.-Lawrence/1

Nova Scotia

Chronicle Herald: http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1206569-hunt-for-oil-gas-in-gulf-of-st-lawrence-questioned

CBC Nova Scotia: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/groups-call-for-gulf-of-st-lawrence-oil-and-gas-moratorium-1..2669369

Prince Edward Island:

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2014-06-09/article-3756428/Group-calls-for-moratorium-on-drilling-in-Gulf-of-St.-Lawrence/1

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2014-06-10/article-3757764/Oceans-Day-reminds-us-to-protect-the-Gulf/1

Quebec

CBC News Montreal (online): http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/moratorium-on-gulf-of-st-lawrence-oil-exploration-sought-1.2669637 (June 9)

Go hear to read the Press Release on the report from the David Suzuki Foundation:

English: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/media/news/2014/06/groups-and-first-nations-in-five-provinces-demand-a-stop-oil-and-gas-activities/

French: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/fr/medias/communiques-de-presse/2014/06/des-groupes-et-premieres-nations-des-cinq-provinces-exigent-un-arret-des-activit/

 

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Widespread collapse of scallop fishery reported in Port au Port Bay, Newfoundland

February 7th, 2014

Port au Port Bay Fishery Committee

MEDIA RELEASE

February 7, 2014

Fishery Committee Concerned about Collapse of the Scallop Fishery and Threats to the Marine Ecosystem in Port au Port Bay

The Port au Port Bay Fishery Committee is intending to act on their concerns about the collapse of the Scallop Fishery and threats to the local Marine Ecosystem,

The Committee which met Monday evening, February 3, 2014 in Port au Port East has created subcommittees and an action plan to deal with their concerns.

Scallop fishermen in the Port au Port Bay Region reported that they have never experienced such a widespread collapse of the scallop fishery in the local bay. Laboratory test results on scallops submitted to the Federal Department of Fisheries last November have been inconclusive as to the cause of the collapse. The committee was also disappointed that the scallops were not tested for petroleum contaminants. The fishermen also report that  sea urchins have gone and there is a big decline in  rock crab.

Local fishermen believe that environmental pollutants, possibly from oil/industrial developments in the area, may be contributing to the drastic decline in scallops. Fishery Committee member Captain Gus Hynes says that he and his crew are quite concerned that developments have been occurring around Port au Port Bay without due regard to their impact on scallops and other marine species.

Fishery Committee members believe that past government environmental assessments done under the jurisdiction of the Canada Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board are not adequately protecting fishery interests and the marine environment. The 2007 Environmental Assessment for the Port au Port Bay Exploration Drilling Program at Shoal Point makes no mention of the potential high risk and vulnerability of the site to tidal surges, coastal erosion and other impacts from extreme weather related to climate change. The risks associated with rapid rate of coastal erosion caused by extreme weather and tidal surges in the area are self evident such as the recent wash- outs of sections of the Piccadilly Main Road; Fox Island Road, and the main roadway to the Shoal Point drilling site.

Bill O’Gorman, scallop diver and Fishery Committee spokesperson, says the name of the area “Shoal” Point should have set off enough bells and red lights to warrant at least some reference in the 2007 Environmental Assessment to the risk involved with drilling at such a vulnerable site. ‘The alarming fact is that drilling was approved on an exposed shoal at the tip of a point jutting out some eight kilometres towards the centre of Port au Port Bay.” Mr. O’ Gorman believes that the environmental and health risks of oil drilling on a shoal are more serious today due to  increasing extreme weather, rising ocean levels and tidal surges – all related to climate change

Boswarlos resident, Andrew Harvey,  a fisherman for thirty-seven years, has been recording storms and other weather conditions in the Port au Port Bay area.  He has noticed the increasing frequency of storms and the intensity of the storm surges.  Andrew speculates, based on the rate of coastal erosion at Shoal Point that the latest  drill site at  the end of the point will be ” pretty well washed away within the next five to ten years”

Other problems at Shoal Point that concerns the Fishery Committee are pollution issues and lack of remediation and environmental restoration at abandoned drilling sites at Shoal Point. “There was no mention in the 2007 Environmental Assessment of past oil drilling sites that were once on land and are now off shore with oil from derelict pipes polluting the coastal environment.” Many area residents and tourists such as Bill Duffenais and Karen Smith, who have a cabin and shed threatened by coastal erosion at Shoal Point, have reported the presence of drilling pipes jutting vertically out of the water off Shoal Point. Troy Duffy, local Environmental Protection Officer and members of the Fishery Committee have   verified and documented the existence of these pipes, oil slicks and smell of petroleum in the area. Larry Hicks, a Provincial Department of Resources geologist, has indicated that there may be as many as fifteen abandoned drilling sites in the Shoal Point area which are in various states of deterioration.

There were also no public consultation meetings or forums conducted as part of the  original 2007 Environmental Assessment Process which ended with the approval of the last drilling project at Shoal Pont. The Fishery Committee believes that this environmental process facilitated by the Canada Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board (C -NLOPB0) was invalid, undemocratic and failed the residents of the region. The C-NLOPB were in conflict of interest by being responsible for facilitating oil and gas development and also being responsible for worker safety and environmental protection. The Fishery Committee supports Judge Robert Wells main recommendation in his Report on Offshore Safety that the Federal and Provincial Governments should create a Safety and Environmental Protection Agency separate from the C-NLOPB.

Related to the 2007 Assessment was the 2010 request from Shoal Pont Energy to amend the 2007 Environmental Assessment to allow Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking). Fracking possibly would have been approved at this site if it were not for the intervention of the regional Fracking Awareness Groups and others.

With reference to the Provincial Government’s Turn Back The Tide Climate Change Initiative the Fishery Committee is calling upon the Provincial Government to do a study and assessment of climate change impacts on Shoal Point and other sensitive areas such as the coastal road near Fox Island River.

The Fishery Committee is requesting that the Provincial and Federal Governments should say no to Hydraulic Fracturing at Shoal Point due to well documented, unacceptable risks. As an alternative they should do what they are promoting in the provincial government’s Turn Back The Tide Advertising Campaign – act on climate change by developing new and clean renewable energy – wind, tidal, thermal and solar.

The objectives of the Port au Port Bay Fishery Committee  are:

1.  Determine why the scallops are dying in Port au Port Bay.

2.  Study and monitor the marine ecology of Port au Port Bay

3.  Promote a healthy marine ecosystem

4.  Preserve the species that are dying off

5.  Preserve the fishery as a way of life.

 

 

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Stopping the Flow – Series of talks in PEI highlights risks of oil drilling in St. Lawrence ~ The Guardian

October 16th, 2013

Stopping the flow
The Guardian
Jim Day
October 15, 2013

Series of talks in P.E.I. highlight risks of oil drilling in St. Lawrence

Sylvain Archambault has encountered his share of indifference towards oil and gas exploration and drilling.

The general public, he notes, often view the practice in a “very neutral way.”

Offer them with some cold, hard, disturbing facts, though, and they can quickly snap to attention, says Archambault.

(Click here for times and locations of talks)

He believes information – good, solid information – is the key to winning converts in a growing campaign to rally support to convince government to place a moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence.

Archambault, who has a Masters in Science, co-founded the St. Lawrence Coalition in 2010 in the Magdalen Islands because “new projects by Corridor Resources was really giving concerns to the people.”

His coalition has since grown to 85 organizations with 4,500 individuals from all walks of life. Scientists, NGOs, tourism operators and fishermen are among the coalition members.

Archambault and his coalition have their sights set squarely on raising awareness of what he considers serious threats posed by the prospect of oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“Our main purpose is to document things, inform the people, influence policy and try to gain a Gulf-wide moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” he said at a media conference in Charlottetown Tuesday.

“There is no rush in going in with oil and gas (exploration and drilling) in the Gulf and we definitely need a comprehensive public review – five provinces plus the federal (government) – to have a global look at this body of water.”

Archambault says Corridor Resources, a junior company with no offshore experience, is proposing to drill in the middle of one of the most productive channels of the entire Gulf in the “Old Harry” prospect between Newfoundland and the Magdalen Islands.

“They have experience on land in New Brunswick – conventional gas, shale gas – but they have no offshore experience,” he says.

He adds the company continues to demonstrate an “arrogant attitude” towards environmental concerns.

Archambault is also concerned with the Quebec government repeatedly voicing its determination to go ahead with oil and gas exploration and perhaps even development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

He notes people often say Newfoundland is drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, so why not drill in the Gulf of St. Lawrence?

“It’s a very, very different picture,” he counters.

“Often the Atlantic is 350 kilometres from the shore…whereas in the Gulf it is a close ecosystem.”

Archambault is in Prince Edward Island this week as the featured speaker in a series of public meetings designed to raise awareness of the serious threats posed by oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The P.E.I. chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores (SOSS P.E.I.) are hosting the series. They are also providing along with Archambault a diverse panel to offer information and to answer questions from the public.

One panelist, marine scientist Irené Novaczek, says the Gulf of St. Lawrence has already been heavily impacted by climate change contributing to the northern cod and the groundfish being “fished down” to a precariously low level.

“Now you add to that more industrial pollution from oil and gas extraction and increased ultra violet light from a thinning ozone layer, you have set yourself up a scenario where the Gulf of St. Lawrence could flip from a precariously healthy ecosystem – damaged that it is now – to a dead zone,” says Novaczek, who serves as an SOSS scientific advisor.

“Industrial activity could be enough to push it over the edge.”

Mike McGeoghegan, president of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association, says there has been a lack of consultation with the fishing community in Atlantic Canada.

“I need to have some more answers before I even look at this thing,” he says.

“We need a moratorium on this thing right now until we…find out what is going on.”

P.E.I. tourism operator Peter Baker fears a spill of any kind, with even the perception that oil would wash ashore in P.E.I., would be a dagger to the heart of the province’s tourism industry.

Archambault notes that the Gulf’s unique, biodiverse ecosystem supports a multi-billion dollar fishery and tourism industries.

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Cradled on the Waves: The Gulf at Risk ~~ October 15-18, PEI

September 26th, 2013

SOSS poster - October 14-18 2013-page-0

 

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/575211705860496/

Read here what The Guardian news of PEI says about the issue and these public talks.

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MP Sean Casey, Charlottetown responds to Strategic Environmental Assessment ~ urges adherence to precautionary principle in the Gulf

September 26th, 2013

Scott Tessier
Chair and CEO
Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board Fifth Floor, TD Place
140 Water St.
St. John’s, NL A1C 6H6

September 20, 2013

Dear Mr. Tessier:

Re: Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) from the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB)

The most recent Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) from the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) highlights serious concerns for the five provincial coastlines at risk, including my own province of Prince Edward Island. Making a decision on the possibility of oil and gas seismic surveys and exploratory drilling without first acknowledging, and rectifying, the many gaps of scientific knowledge found in your report could result in harm to the ecosystem and surrounding provinces.

In hearing from those who are scientifically qualified to comment on the matter, I am of the opinion that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is already in fragile health. With this in mind, it seems that the correct thing to do in this situation is adhere to precautionary principal and withhold development until it can be proven to be completed without any harm to the ecosystem.

Additionally, the consultation process undertaken resulted in concerns and issues highlighted by not only my constituents and other Islanders, but residents of the other Atlantic Provinces. My assistant and I were listed as stakeholders consulted but were only there due to an invitation from a consultant hired by Corridor Resources.

I find it troubling that these concerns seem to have been accepted as mere challenges rather than reasons to review the consultation process again or halt the project. There is a vast difference between “consultation” and “placation” and I sincerely hope we are not dealing with the latter.

Seismic surveys and exploratory drilling have the potential to devastate Prince Edward Island’s socio-economic situation as fishing is one of PEI’s primary industries, and employers. Besides the obvious threat to the fishing industry, granting further exploration rights has the added side effect of potentially affecting our tourism industry. The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a beautiful natural asset, and as you stated in your report, an environmentally sensitive area that deserves the utmost care for the sake of our future dependence on its resources.

While provincial boundaries dividing the Gulf of St. Lawrence are man-made and therefore mostly superficial, the implications of oil development are not. I would ask at least for the consultation process to be reviewed and undertaken in a genuine manner to hear the concerns of the communities affected by this project prior to exploratory or development deeds being released.

Sincerely,
Sean Casey,
Member of
Parliament
Charlottetown

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Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition and Gulf NS Herring Federation response to SEA report

September 18th, 2013

Sept 18, 2013

Scott Tessier
Chair and CEO
Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board
Fifth Floor, TD Place
140 Water St.
St. John’s, NL A1C 6H6

Dear Mr. Tessier:

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the CNLOPB’s  Strategic Environmental Assessment Update for western NL(2013).

We are very, very disappointed by the narrow, inadequate terms of reference for this SEA Update report, and the subsequent deficiencies in this environmental assessment.

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a vital, sensitive ecosystem of great marine diversity, productivity and importance to the coastal communities of NS, NB, PEI, QC and NL. It is also a globally significant ecosystem in fragile health due to  ocean acidification and hypoxia that requires immediate protection from further industrial development as well as restorative actions to maintain its sustainability.

Because the stakes are so high, a Strategic Environmental Assessment in the Gulf  must  be transparent, include extensive Gulf wide public engagement and seriously acknowledge the unknown implications from many gaps in scientific knowledge and understanding of how this complex ecosystem functions.

The acknowledgement in this SEA report of vulnerable marine mammals, rare turtles, lobster, krill, herring, capelin, redfish and plaice, to name a few, and cod ─ of special concern ─ in the designated western NL area, PROVES  that this marine region is too sensitive a body of water for offshore oil and gas seismic surveys and exploratory drilling to proceed. We will explain more but first, we have to be honest and specific with you.

The public consultation process was severely flawed.  For example, SOSS Coalition and the Gulf NS Herring Federation did not receive an invitation to the meetings held at the Board’s discretion in Sydney NS, even though our ongoing efforts over the past three years helped to generate these very consultations.  SOSS’ PEI Branch was similarly excluded from the stakeholder meeting in Charlottetown. The public event on PEI was poorly and briefly advertised, and hidden in the basement of a hotel far from the coastal communities that will face the greatest risks from petroleum development.

1)      The report on the Public Consultations in this SEA is very difficult to evaluate and in our opinion, grossly understates  the obvious lack of social acceptance by those of us who live near and rely upon the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  It makes light of our deep concerns for our sustainable environment, livelihoods, culture, property values and quality of life.

2)      The SEA understates and does not adequately address the short and long term risk factors of offshore development and exploratory drilling at Old Harry, in western NL and throughout the Gulf. These shortfalls stem from the narrow terms of reference and cookie cutter approach of this assessment, e.g., the SEA only addresses the limited scientific knowledge we have about the waters within the man-made boundaries of the NL portion of our Gulf.

3)      The SEA disregards the long and short term, cumulative negative impacts of chronic exploitation and degradation that this development would bring to the coastlines and waters of western NL and throughout our Gulf.

4)      It does not address the inability to ‘mitigate’ an oil spill in a Nor’easter under winter ice (or any time of year),  in a semi-enclosed sea with five provincial coastlines, chronic strong winds and tides, and counter-clockwise currents that only flush into the Atlantic once a year. The counter-clockwise currents could carry pollutants to the coasts of every province in Atlantic Canada over the course of a year.

5)      The SEA does not address the inevitability of increasingly erratic, severe weather patterns, hurricanes and ocean storms due to the acceleration of climate change, nor does it explain how to clean up any spill that could occur during such a storm.

6)      The SEA does not offer a solution to the lack of preparedness to respond to an oil spill by Canada’s Coast Guard, the CNLOPB and the offshore oil and gas industry –
(Canada’s offshore oil spill response outdated, audits found http://cbc.sh/qTBpiXe )

7)      It does not deal with the issue of liability and compensation to stakeholders negatively impacted by an oil spill ─ people whose livelihoods could be destroyed. For instance, herring fishermen in Alaska near where the Exxon Valdez spill happened have not seen the herring come back 22 years later.

8)      The other fatal weakness of this assessment is that it does not acknowledge or address ocean acidification and hypoxia in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, or deal with how fragile the Gulf’s productivity and health are at this point in time.

According to DFO’s State of the Oceans reports (2010 and 2012), in the Gulf of St. Lawrence:

“Recent and historical data reveal that hypoxia is progressively worsening in the deep waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, especially at the heads of the Laurentian, Anticosti and Esquiman channels. The lowest levels of dissolved oxygen were recorded in the Laurentian Channel, where measurements have routinely been in the range of 20% saturation since the mid-1980s.”

What is Hypoxia?

“Around the world, marine hypoxia — a shortage of dissolved oxygen — is a growing problem that can have dramatic impacts on marine life and ecosystems. A decline in oxygen in seawater is now recognized as one of the likely consequences of global warming, because warmer water does not hold as much oxygen…”

According to DFO’s Impacts of Emerging Climate Issues:

“Low oxygen (hypoxia) has dramatic impacts on aquatic ecosystems, and the tolerance of marine fish and invertebrates to this condition is highly species dependent. At oxygen levels below 30 percent saturation, cod and other species that are intolerant of hypoxia either migrate to other geographic regions or die. Deoxygenation is now recognized as one of the likely consequences of climate change. The long term observations analyzed by DFO scientists have provided insight into climate change over the decades and the growing knowledge and awareness of hypoxia (dead zones) in Canadian waters”.

We conclude that hypoxia has reduced the resilience of the Gulf and its inhabitants, compromising the ability of the ecosystem to cope with further degradation such as seismic blasting, chronic pollution from offshore rigs, and related marine traffic.

What is Ocean Acidification?

According to DFO’s Impacts of Emerging Climate Issues:

“The earth’s oceans are vast carbon sinks. In the 200 years since the industrial revolution began, the oceans have absorbed about 30% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released by the burning of fossil fuels. But this climatic benefit has come at a cost. Carbon dioxide dissolves in the surface water and forms carbonic acid, lowering the pH of ocean waters. The more CO2 the ocean absorbs, the more acidic they will become. There are serious concerns about the ability of marine ecosystems to adapt to acidification. Organisms that form calcium carbonate skeletons and shells, such as coccolithophores and pteropods (food source for salmon), will be greatly limited in their ability to form their outer protective shells since a decline in pH decreases the saturation state of CaCO3. Commercial species such as lobster and shellfish are also vulnerable to this impact.”

According to DFO’s State of the Oceans report:

“Ocean acidification is a global threat with potential impacts on marine food webs, ecosystem productivity, commercial fisheries and global food security. This threat has prompted the international scientific community, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, to investigate the implications of this significant international governance issue.

Each year, about one third of the carbon dioxide (CO2) in fossil fuel emissions dissolves in ocean surface waters, forming carbonic acid and increasing ocean acidity. Over the next century or so, acidification will be intensified near the surface where much of the marine life that humans depend upon live.

The ocean surface is becoming more acidic with increasing atmospheric CO2, and acidity has increased by about 30% since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Estimates of future carbon dioxide levels, based on “business as usual” CO2 emission scenarios, indicate that by the end of this century, the surface waters of the ocean could be nearly 150% more acidic, resulting in a pH (a measure of acidity) that the oceans haven’t experienced for more than 20-million years and raising serious concerns about the ability of marine organisms to adapt. This scenario is based on information provided by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Monitoring ocean acidification and assessing its potential impacts are essential to the development of an ecosystem approach to managing the marine resources that are likely to be affected by this global threat.”

While ocean acidity levels are increasing by 30% globally, DFO estimates that ocean acidity levels have increased by 50 – 90% in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  There is scant knowledge about how reduced oxygen and increasing acidity interact with increased loading of petroleum products and other persistent organic pollutants.  Additionally,  ultraviolet light, which enhances the toxicity of pollutants in the marine environment, has increased owing to the depletion of atmospheric ozone in recent decades, and it is clear that the Gulf requires protection from any further assault.  Rather, its vulnerability calls for immediate restorative action.

Conclusions:

The SOSS Coalition notes that this environmental assessment is important because it will provide the framework to determine whether offshore development should proceed in Canada’s ecologically sensitive Gulf, whose beauty and bounty annually supports multi-billion dollar fishery and tourism industries across five provinces.

We believe the CNLOPB has not met its responsibility as an ‘independent regulator’ because the assessment does not conform with the Ecosystem and Precautionary mandates of the UN Convention on Biodiversity, and Canada’s Oceans Act.  The narrow terms of reference fail to recognize the vulnerable state of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and also, ignore the reality that offshore drilling will negatively impact areas beyond the constantly moving waters of the designated offshore leases in western NL.

We maintain that the concerns voiced by the people of the Gulf deserve a fair, impartial hearing. The BP Deepwater Horizon, an exploratory well that went horribly wrong, shows that serious long-term impacts do occur, especially during exploration. Three and a half years after the BP disaster, with billions of dollars spent, only 3% of the oil has been recovered from the Gulf of Mexico and shrimp are now surfacing deformed, with no eyes. We also know that herring fishermen in Alaska near the Exxon Valdez spill site have still not seen the herring come back, 22 years later. We have to prevent disasters like these from happening here.

We are extremely concerned that the federal government is dismantling environmental regulations governing petroleum development instead of strengthening them, and we are left at the mercy of unelected provincial petroleum boards. These boards have conflicting mandates for petroleum industry development, worker safety and environmental health.  In our coalition’s opinion, the structure of these Boards enables the focus to be more on development, backed up by industry consultants who focus on ‘mitigation’ of negative impacts, instead of protecting vulnerable and poorly understood ecosystems from development.

Three years after the Wells inquiry, the CNLOPB still has not implemented Justice Wells’ recommendation that a separate regulator for safety and the environment be established, in spite of subsequent safety incidents on NL rigs. The Board’s unwillingness to take this particular recommendation seriously makes it difficult for us to trust in this process or to feel that the CNLOPB is functioning as a neutral regulator to protect the long term public interest.

We can’t help but question the neutrality and judgement of the CNLOPB when it has hired the global giant, AMEC to conduct this SEA.  AMEC is one of the world’s leading engineering, project management and consultancy companies whose clients include BP and Shell. According to the company’s website, “Our shares are traded on the London stock exchange where the company is included in the FTSE 100 Index and listed in the Oil Equipment and Services Sector. We offer services which extend from environmental and front end engineering design before the start of a project to decommissioning at the end of an asset’s life.”

Therefore, Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition and the Gulf NS Herring Federation want to state on the public record that:

The SEA Update Report of Western NL 2013 is not an accurate assessment of the designated area. While it acknowledges the diversity of marine life and thus, the sensitivity of these waters, it understates the paucity of scientific understanding of the ecosystem, the gaps in knowledge and data, and the lack of social sanction for exploration in the Gulf.

Further, it does not prioritize or even place in context the ecological fragility of the Gulf of St. Lawrence due to ocean acidification and hypoxia; and it diminishes the socio-economic and cultural importance of the renewable fishing and tourism livelihoods, people, animals, recreation, coastal communities, and vulnerable ecosystems throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence that could be negatively impacted by offshore oil and gas development at Old Harry and in western NL.

In our opinion, this type of cookie cutter SEA, conducted by only one of the five affected jurisdictions and without substantive public engagement, is not only inadequate, it is unethical.  It minimizes the dangerous, and perhaps irrevocable, negative impacts that offshore oil and gas development could have on vulnerable marine life and on the tens of thousands of fishing and tourism jobs, in hundreds of coastal communities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

In the fragile waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, marine species spawn, nurse and migrate year around.  Given the sensitivity of the Gulf, and given that the Gulf’s historic stakeholders (inshore fishermen, coastal landowners, small business/tourism operators and First Nations among others) have survived for centuries on this globally significant ecosystem, we submit that it is unreasonable and unethical to proceed with offshore oil and gas development.

We wish to remind the CNLOPB  and the governments of Canada and the five Atlantic provinces that if the offshore oil and gas industry is sincere about ‘co-existence’, it must concede that some bodies of water are too sensitive for offshore oil and gas development ─  including the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, which is a semi-enclosed sea that has already suffered significant degradation. How safe are larvae, spawn and all the sensitive life stages of marine organisms, if all of the waters that marine species breed in are up for grabs by the offshore oil and gas industry?  We are convinced that our Gulf needs to be protected by a moratorium on petroleum exploration, coupled with efforts to conserve and restore the ecosystem.

We wish to remind you that even with moratoria in the Gulf of St Lawrence and Georges Bank, the offshore oil industry would still have access to over 88% of Canada’s East coast waters.

We are recommending that the CNLOPB refrain from any and all development in the waters along the western coast of NL and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and work inter-provincially and with the federal government to develop a Gulf-wide, arms-length and truly independent Environmental Review Panel process that will allow for effective and respectful public consultation.  The scope of such a process must be open to public debate, and the process must conform to the highest international standards for strategic environmental assessment in sensitive and globally significant ecosystems.

Respectfully submitted,

Mary Gorman Save Our Sea and Shores Coalition, Merigomish NS
Greg Egilsson Chairman, Gulf NS Herring Federation, Pictou NS
Dr. Irene Novaczek, marine biologist, Breadalbane PEI

Cc:

The Hon. Joe Oliver MP / Minister of Natural Resources
The Hon. Leona Aglukkaq MP / Minister of Environment
The Hon. Gail Shea MP / Minister of Fisheries
The Hon. Peter MacKay MP / Minister of Justice
The Hon. Thomas Mulcair MP / Leader of the Official Opposition
Justin Trudeau MP / Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
Elizabeth May MP / Leader of the Green Party of Canada
Wayne Easter MP
Lawrence MacAulay MP
Rodger Cuzner MP
Sean Casey MP
Kathy Dunderdale, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador
Darryl Dexter, Premier of NS
Robert Ghiz, Premier of PEI
Pauline Marois, Premier of Quebec
David Alward, Premier of New Brunswick
Charlie Parker, NS Minister of Energy
Clarrie Mackinnon MLA Pictou East

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The Council of Canadians raises concerns about fracking in Newfoundland

May 24th, 2013

MEDIA RELEASE
For Immediate Release
May 24, 2013

The Council of Canadians is expressing solidarity with communities who are fighting proposals to frack on the West Coast of Newfoundland, including near the boundaries of Gros Morne National Park. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently announced that the park could be de-listed as a World Heritage site because of these onshore-to-offshore projects to frack for oil.

Black Spruce Exploration and Shoal Point Energy Ltd. have submitted plans that include fracking to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, but have yet to apply for a drilling permit with the Newfoundland and Labrador government. The companies plan to explore for oil and gas by drilling down on land and then horizontally under the Bay of St. Lawrence in the Port au Port / St. George’s Bay area, Sally’s Cove / Rocky Harbour and several other communities along the West Coast.

“We are alarmed that these companies have plans to frack within kilometres of Gros Morne National Park,” says Ken Kavanagh of the Council of Canadians’ St. John’s chapter. “It’s not just about Gros Morne, though. Communities all along the West Coast are getting informed and organizing to stop the proposed fracking projects from moving forward.”

“Opposition to fracking projects in the Atlantic region has been gaining momentum. Once people learn about all of the concerns and unanswered questions about hydraulic fracturing, they don’t want it in their communities,” says Angela Giles, Atlantic Regional Organizer with the Council of Canadians.

UNESCO has also said it will be keeping tabs on the environmental review process related to the fracking projects. Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow, a past special adviser on water issues to the president of the UN General Assembly, says, “Fracking poses a serious threat to water and undoubtedly a former Chevron executive heading the regulatory board will not go unnoticed by UNESCO.” Barlow adds, “Gros Morne is a national treasure that must be protected.”

The Council of Canadians is calling for a ban on fracking in Newfoundland and Labrador, and is working in solidarity with several community groups on the West Coast of Newfoundland.

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For more information or to arrange an interview:

Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685, dpenner@canadians.org
Twitter: @CouncilOfCDNs | www.canadians.org/fracking

http://canadians.org/media/water/2013/24-May-13.html

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Tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador calls for analysis into impacts of fracking

May 24th, 2013

Hospitality NL calls for comprehensive analysis into impacts of fracking

For immediate release

May 17, 2013 – Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador strongly urges for a hold on slick-water hydraulic fracturing in the province, especially within the greater boundaries of Gros Morne National Park, until a comprehensive analysis of the long-term impacts of the proposed hydraulic fracturing projects is completed.

“As the tourism industry association of Newfoundland and Labrador, Hospitality NL cannot support an initiative that has the potential to negatively impact a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the absence of comprehensive analysis. Gros Morne is a natural attraction that has been the target of significant and strategic tourism investment for close to 40 years and is one of the biggest tourism demand generators in our province,” says Hospitality NL Chair, Darlene Thomas. “Those in support of the project say that the impacts on tourism will be minimal but this simply cannot be known at this stage of the proposed development, in the absence of comprehensive study of our unique circumstances. If this fracking project is indeed such a positive step forward for the region, allowing the time for a comprehensive analysis will provide evidence of this and give everyone involved an opportunity to fully understand what will happen if this project goes ahead.”

“Hospitality NL is not opposed to oil and gas development and understands its value to both the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador and the tourism industry,” adds Thomas. “However, a balanced approach must be taken between such developments and the protection of natural tourism assets in our province that enhance the quality of life for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and serve as the foundation of other revenue-generating industries. We have serious concerns about any development project that has the potential to degrade the exceptional natural beauty, brand, reputation and UNESCO designation of the Gros Morne region and upset its delicate ecological system. There are potential negative impacts with air pollution, water pollution, heavy truck traffic, visual impacts, hazardous fracking chemicals, spills, visitor perceptions and brand erosion that must be considered.

“Our association along with our tourism partners throughout the province are adamant that due diligence is critical in understanding the crossroads this province has reached in either approving or rejecting projects that may damage our most treasured and revered natural areas. Policies and procedures, based on sound research and detailed analysis, must be established and enacted before balanced decisions can be made concerning fracking, land use development and resource management, especially in the vicinity of UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are among the biggest demand generators for tourism in our province.”

Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador is the provincial tourism industry association dedicated to advancing growth in tourism through advocacy efforts, skills and knowledge development and networking opportunities.

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Media Contact:
Leslie Rossiter

http://hnl.ca/news-item/hospitality-nl-calls-for-comprehensive-analysis-into-impacts-of-fracking/

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