Category Archives: Quebec

Old Harry : Corridor Resources’ license extended one year without penalty – The St. Lawrence Coalition denounces this preferential treatment

January 19th, 2016

PRESS RELEASE
Montréal, January 19 2016

Against all odds, the Canada – Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (the Board), with the approval of both federal and Newfoundland Natural Resources ministers (James Carr and Siobhan Coady), extended Corridor Resources’ exploration license EL1105 on the Old Harry site for an extra year, a license that was set to expire last Friday January 15. This favour was granted without even requiring the mandatory one million dollars drilling deposit to obtain an extension. It is the third time in four years that Corridor obtains such a special privilege, a situation that is strongly denounced by the St. Lawrence Coalition.

The Board justifies this exploration license extension by saying it is necessary in order to hold public as well as First Nations consultations. Yet, ex-Environment Minister Peter Kent had already asked the Board in August 2011, over four years ago, to hold such “extensive public consultations”. The Board did set up an inter-provincial consultation in September 2011, to be under the direction of Commissioner Bernard Richard, but it was canceled in February 2012 by the Board, without justification, a few days before it officially started.

Danielle and Sylvain

Danielle Giroux, president of Attention FragÎles and Sylvain Archambault, biologist (SNAP Québec) and spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition.

“The required consultations have still not been held. And now the Board dares to say that the extension is needed to perform consultations that they have been pushing forward for the last four years. This is disrespectful to all the citizens, scientists, fishermen, First Nations, who, for many years, have had deep concerns about the dangers of such offshore drillings” says Sylvain Archambault, biologist (SNAP Québec) and spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition.

In the Magdalen Islands, people are also distressed with this news: “The Corridor Resources drilling project, a mere 80 km from the archipelago, stirs up major concerns with numerous citizens and organizations on the islands. During the past few years, Magdalen Islanders have voiced regularly their opposition to the drilling project and their fears over the impacts of opening the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the oil industry” emphasizes Danielle Giroux, president of Attention FragÎles.

“Corridor Resources is a junior company with no offshore experience and limited financial means. Even if the firm struggles to fulfill its license obligations and survives from extension to extension since 2008, it still holds two licenses on the Quebec portion of Old Harry, licenses currently under moratorium. Why would Quebec take enormous risks by lifting its moratorium and associating itself with a junior company struggling to keep its license in Newfoundland?” asks Christian Simard of Nature Québec.

“The Gulf of St. Lawrence is host to great biological diversity and its durable fishing and tourism industries should be encouraged” says Jean-Patrick Toussaint, Science Project Manager at the David Suzuki Foundation. “For many years, numerous groups, citizens and scientists, have asked the federal minister of Natural Resources to work in a concerted manner with the five Gulf provinces to put in place a true integrated management of the Gulf. As a matter of fact, the federal government has recently committed to better protect Canada’s marine areas, including the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The federal government should invite the provinces to work together for better protection of the Gulf, rather than giving a free-pass to Corridor Resources” concludes Mr Toussaint.
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The St. Lawrence Coalition is composed of 85 organizations and associations, including First Nations, and over 5000 individuals from various economic sectors and the 5 coastal provinces. Members of the Coalition are calling for a moratorium on exploration and exploitation of oil and gas across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The St. Lawrence Coalition is overseen by a steering committee composed of Attention FragÎles, the David Suzuki Foundation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS Québec) and Nature Québec.

Please download the St. Lawrence Coalition report on oil exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence “Gulf 101”

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‘They’re neighbours’: Ethan Hawke on why he joined Mi’kmaq call to halt oil drilling ~ CTV

November 25th, 2015
CTVNews.ca Staff
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 1:06PM EST

 

Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke says he considers Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq people to be his “neighbours,” and that they’ve inspired him to support a moratorium on drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

“You know, I have a place up in Nova Scotia,” Hawke said CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday. “There is a Mi’kmaq (reserve) right near my house.”

Hawke, who is currently on tour promoting his new book “Rules for a Knight,” said the nearby First Nations group reached out to ask him to support their cause.

“They contacted me and made me aware of what was happening in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and what they’re doing to protect it,” he said.

Along with other environmental groups, the Mi’kmaq are calling for a 12-year moratorium on drilling in the area.

They say the drilling could harm the fragile ecosystem and their traditional lands, and want a thorough environmental assessment before any operations continue.

Hawke joined the Mi’kmaq for a traditional water ceremony last month to honour the community’s relationship with their environment.

“You know, they’re an impressive group of people,” Hawke said. “I really like how they’re using their indigenous rights to help us all.”

Hawke owns a property in St. George’s Bay, N.S., often spends time there during the summer.

In October, he told The Canadian Press that the area is “an absolutely magical place.”

Hawke told Canada AM that he feels it’s important to protect the gulf not only for himself and the Mi’kmaq currently living there, but for future generations.

“I really wanted my kids to see me (advocating with the Mi’kmaq) because that piece of property, with any luck, will be theirs’,” he said. “And the legacy of taking care of that land and that water will fall to them.”

Beyond environmental stewardship, Hawke also recently offered his children life lessons in the form of a new book.

In “Rules for a Knight,” the author and actor lists a series of traits all good knights – or good people – should possess.

Hawke says he drew upon his own life experience and family lessons to come up with the complete list of 20 rules, which span from lessons on humility to ruminations on solitude, friendship, and death.

Each chapter opens with an illustration of a bird, drawn by his wife, Ryan Shawhughes.

Hawke said the idea for the book originally sprang from a conversation with his Shawhughes about the most important rules in their home. The concept evolved into “Rules for a princess,” which was dedicated to his eldest daughter. Then, Hawke adjusted the title to fit his son’s interests.

“It slowly just grew in the telling until finally, this year, my oldest is graduating and we just decided to publish it,” he said.

Hawke said his wife and children influenced the book so much that, in some ways, he doesn’t feel right taking all the credit.

“I feel much more like the editor than an author,” he said.

Source: CTV Canada AM

[Note: Independent media video idea coverage of the October 26th press conference in Paq’tnkek is also available. Watch excerpts from all speakers here, and Save Our Seas and Shores spokesperson’s entire commentary here. Credit: Ruby Tree Films]

 

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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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‘This water is our greatest resource’: Ethan Hawke joins call to stop offshore drilling in Gulf of St. Lawrence ~ Global News

October 28th, 2015

By Julia Wong Video Journalist Global News
October 27, 2015 8:30 am
Updated: October 27, 2015 4:23 pm

HALIFAX – Hollywood actor Ethan Hawke lent some star power to environmentalists and First Nations groups in Nova Scotia who are calling for a ban on offshore drilling in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence.

On Monday, the Academy Award nominee joined the chiefs of the Paq’tnkek First Nation and the Mi’kmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi along with the Save our Seas and Shores Coalition to call for a 12-year moratorium in the Gulf.

“Water is more valuable than oil. This water is our greatest resource,” Hawke told reporters.

The actor has a house in Monastery, N.S. and has been visiting the area for 20 years. Hawke was asked to attend the event by the First Nations groups and said protecting the Gulf is personal.

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

“The one thing I can do as the one actor in the community is to sit next to really educated people who are working extremely hard to protect this beautiful water.”

Hawke participated in a water ceremony on the waterfront, which 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.

WATCH: Actor and celebrity Ethan Hawke lent his star power to the call against oil and gas development in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. It’s an issue of particular interest to First Nations groups in Nova Scotia. Julia Wong reports.

Call for more protection

Hawke said he trusts the judgment of the First Nations who have long lived in the area.

“I believe in the Mi’kmaq ability to decide what is best for this land. They earned that right not just by inhabiting this land for thousands of years but for the way they’ve cared for that water. I trust their judgment about what is best for this area, for the earth, for the land, for the people and for the water.”

First Nations chiefs said oil should not be given more priority than the environment.

“We demand the race to drill in the Gulf be stopped,” said Chief P.J. Prosper of the Paq’tnkek First Nation.

“Canadians and our Nations must be heard. No drilling without the proper assessment. The social good demands this. The Atlantic fisheries, our economy, our ecosystem must take precedence over oil.”

Chief Scott Martin of the Mi’kmaq Government said water is sacred for the First Nations people.

“We are all a treaty people. We all hold the sacred responsibility to take care of the lands and resources, not only for ourselves but for future generations as Mi’kmaq people,” he said.

“I’ve often thought if the water could have a voice here at this table what would she say? What would she say about the treatment and the neglect that people hold towards these invaluable and finite resources. So I ask you here today to please consider this very special meaning that water has for us, for all of us and the future generations that it supports.”

Mary Gorman, spokesperson from Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition, said marine protection is weak in Canada right now and more must be done to protect the Gulf’s fragile ecosystem.

“It has counterclockwise currents that only flush into the Atlantic once a year. It is windy with ice cover. It sustains multi-billion dollar fishery and tourism industries and has among the largest lobster production in the world,” she said.
New Liberal government

Martin said he hopes the new Trudeau government will be receptive to their concerns.

“When they came campaigning at our doors, they say ‘We’re here to work with you’ and ‘Anything we can do to help you?’ This will be one of their first tests they will be challenged with because of the fact we’ve been trying to stop this for many years now,” he said.

“Now is the time to step up to the plate.”

Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner, who was in attendance at the event, said prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau is committed to a new relationship with First Nations communities.

“It is the early days now. We don’t know who is going to end up at the portfolio but it’s one that Atlantic caucus members that have been around the table for a while are very aware of,” he said.

A spokesperson for Central Nova MP Sean Fraser told Global News that Fraser will bring the issue to the attention of the minister in charge.

“Because of the importance of the fishery and the environment, he will make this concern an early priority once taking office,” reads the statement sent to Global News.

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.”

– with files from CP

Source: Global News

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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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Fishing Industry Raises Concerns over Oil and Gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

July 21st, 2015

Press Release, July 21/2015

In a powerful show of unity, First Nation communities and fishing industry representatives call on the Federal Ministers of Natural Resources, Environment, and Fisheries to suspend petroleum development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence until it can determine that these activities would pose no risk to commercial fisheries.

The Gulf’s Aboriginal Communities, Harvester, and Processor Associations, call on the federal government to hear public concerns and evaluate the risks of drilling in a semi- enclosed body of water that supports hundreds of coastal communities in 5 provinces.

“The government is ignoring that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is partially landlocked and one of the most sensitive and productive marine breeding regions in Canada with over 2,200 marine species that spawn, nurse and migrate year around. Due to the sensitive nature of the St. Lawrence it unlikely that a billion dollar fishing industry could withstand oil and gas development,” says Marilyn Clark, executive director of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association.  Although Strategic Environmental assessment (SEA) have been undertaken by both Newfoundland and Quebec, these inadequate assessments failed to look at the Gulf as a whole, she said.

“We know there is very little capacity to respond to an oil spill due to high winds and counter clockwise currents that only empty into the Atlantic once a year, leaving NS, NB, PEI, QC and NL coastlines vulnerable to contamination. Despite this, the environmental assessment process has been downgraded to allow companies to drill exploratory wells without consulting people depending on these waters for their livelihoods,” states fisherman Leonard Leblanc of Cheticamp, Nova Scotia.

Spill simulations undertaken by the Rimouski Institute of Ocean Science demonstrate that fish and plankton critical to the Gulf’s food chain would have to migrate through oil at both the Laurentian Channel and Straight of Belle Isle, which are entry and exit regions critical to the Gulf’s entire eco-system.

Even Corridor Resources, who wants to drill at Old Harry, acknowledge in their EA report that: “There are environmental and technological constraints to response and cleanup. High sea states and visibility are examples of typical environmental constraints, while technological constraints include pumping capacity of oil recovery devices and effectiveness of chemical dispersants.” Furthermore, several months of ice coverage in the winter escalate these important limitations.

Nearly two years ago, First Nations formed the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Alliance and signed an agreement to protect the Gulf from Oil and Gas Development. They have recently renewed this commitment and reiterated their request for a 12 year Moratorium.

To date, they have yet to be consulted on the Old Harry project.

“Quebec’s Environment Assessment (SEA) detailed many gaps in knowledge and understanding of the Gulf of St Lawrence.  We have existing Aboriginal rights and constitutionally protected Treaty Rights as recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada. We will do all that is necessary to protect our way of life and prevent any exploratory plan to be carried out in the Gulf,” explains Troy Jerome, Executive Director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

In the event of a spill, Canadian law demands a company to have a measly 1 billion dollars of compensation monies. This is deeply inadequate when you consider that Gulf fisheries are worth more than one billion each year. Investments in boats, licenses, and fish plants dependent on renewable resources for their operations are worth far more than these proposed damages. The BP Macondo disaster cost BP over $40 billion dollars so far and could cost the company over $60billion due to ongoing litigation.

“How do you quantify damages to living species that have been around for thousands of years if you are not even taking into account ecological value?” asks Clark. “In short, the Gulf of St. Lawrence fishing industry will accept no less than a full, independent expert review panel, acting in the 5 provinces, as is warranted by public concerns in section 38 (2) b of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act”, she concludes.

For further information contact:

Marilyn Clark 902.774.0006 (French/English)
Director Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association

Troy Jerome 506.759.2000 (French/English)
Executive Director
Nutewistoq, Mi’gmawei, Mawiomi Secretariat

Leonard LeBlanc 902-302-0794 (French/English)
Gulf Nova Scotia Fishermen’s Coalition

Ian MacPherson 902-566-4050 (English)
PEI Fishermen’s Association

Jean-Pierre Couillard 418-269-7701 (French)
Association des Capitaines Propriétaire de la Gaspésie

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Groups band together to fight oil exploration on Gulf of St. Lawrence ~ APTN news

July 21st, 2015

July 21, 2015

by Danielle Rochette

APTN National News

Eighteen organizations spread out over four provinces are banding together and calling on the federal government to stop any kind of oil exploration work in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The group sent a letter Tuesday to Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea and Minister of Environment Leona Aglukkaq. [See press release here]

“As fisheries representatives active in all parts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, we are writing to inform you that we will oppose any petroleum development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence without prior consultation and a thorough understanding of the impacts to our seafood industry,” the letter states.

It’s not clear who penned the letter.

The Nutewistoq M’igmawei Mawiomi Secretariat is one of the organizations that is part of the coalition.

The group pointed out that the process that will allow companies to explore for oil, will also allow them to circumvent the environmental or consultation process.

“Given that exploratory drilling has been downgraded to a simple ‘screening exercise,’ which does not necessitate consultation with existing users, we demand that the Old Harry prospect be put to a full review panel as is warranted by public concern under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act” the letter states.

A Mi’kmaq group out of Quebec is already lobbying the Quebec government to put in place a 12-year moratorium on exploration work in the Gulf. [See APTN story here: Nations band together to fight future oil exploration in Gulf of Saint Lawrence]

There is also a coalition made up of environmental groups and First Nation communities fighting any kind of oil work. They’re concerned that thousands of fisheries and tourism jobs will be at stake if there is a spill in the Gulf.

“We would also like to remind the federal government that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is a common body of water and that spills occurring in one area cannot be contained by provincial delineations,” they say in the letter.

The Gulf waters touch five provinces, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Source: Groups band together to fight oil exploration on Gulf of St. Lawrence – APTN National news

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Blue whale feeding ecology in the St. Lawrence River estuary

March 22nd, 2013

Blue Whale photo: Thomas Doniol-Valcroze

Authors: Véronique Lesage, Thomas Doniol-Valcroze

Feeding is central to an animal’s life history and ecology. Large predators do not feed continuously but rather in bouts of intense activity separated by periods of searching, resting or socializing. Moreover, feeding does not occur randomly in space, as animals select precise areas with characteristics of prey density, accessibility and predictability that maximize their chances of meeting their energy requirements. Every summer, blue whales from the endangered North Atlantic population come to the St Lawrence River estuary to feed on dense aggregations of euphausiids. Documenting the timing and location of foraging success is therefore of utmost importance to assess and monitor habitat quality on this feeding ground.

In marine systems, however, feeding happens mostly under the surface and is rarely observable directly. In this study, we have used data-loggers to record, at every second, the depth and swimming speed of 10 blue whales during their dives in the St Lawrence estuary. By detecting the rapid speed changes that are characteristic of lunging behaviour and mouth opening, we have been able to pinpoint the exact moment, depth and location of each feeding attempt. With this information, we have shown that blue whales feed at all times of the diurnal cycle and intensify their feeding activity at night when prey are accessible at shallow depths. This is in contrast to previous assumptions in the literature that blue whales did not feed at night.

Using radio-telemetry, we have also been able to describe the habitats where blue whales concentrated their feeding effort, and how different habitats were used at different phases of the tidal cycle (e.g., feeding at the shelf edge when flood tidal currents were concentrating euphausiids against the steep slopes).

Moreover, we have shown that St Lawrence blue whales used optimal strategies to adapt their dive times and feeding effort to the depth of their prey. In particular, feeding rates were consistently higher when blue whales performed short feeding dives at shallow depths. These results suggest that diving predators may judge habitat quality in terms of prey accessibility at shallow depths rather than selecting habitat solely based on prey density or abundance.

Taken together, these strategies may allow blue whales to optimize a short seasonal window of feeding opportunity and maximize resource acquisition. Indeed, feeding rates diminished over the summer feeding season, and were negatively correlated with the time each animal spent in a social pair, suggesting a trade-off between feeding and socializing with the approach of the breeding season. Better understanding of the behaviour and feeding ecology of large whales can help predict their responses to environmental changes and anthropogenic pressures.

This project was conducted in collaboration with Robert Michaud and Janie Giard from the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals in Tadoussac, Quebec.

Excerpt from Department of Fisheries and Oceans Center of Expertise in Marine Mammalogy: Scientific Research Report 2009-2011

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Over 200 supporters rally in Gesgapegiag, Quebec to protest oil and gas drilling in the Gulf – Video

October 24th, 2011

Highlights from the Oil & Gas Protest held in Gesgapegiag on Oct. 22, 2011. Over 200 supporters were on hand to send a message to the Governments and the Industry on plans for Off-Shore Oil drilling in Gespe’gewa’gi.

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