October 14, 2014

K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax NS) – Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition is calling on the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) to stop issuing license extensions (free or otherwise) to Corridor Resources for EL-1105 at Old Harry in the Gulf of St Lawrence.

Following up on the announcement made by the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Alliance in Halifax last July, wherein First Nations called for a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence, representatives from SOSS-NS, NB, PEI, QC and NL are meeting in Halifax this week to announce their support for the Alliance’s demand.

“There is a duty to consult First Nations that has not been upheld thus far in this process.” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. “In the enclosed attachment C-NLOPB acknowledges: ‘The Board has not yet explicitly requested input from the public or aboriginal communities’. It makes no sense for the C-NLOPB to issue another license extension to Corridor Resources, when First Nations have called for a 12-year moratorium – unless they plan to give Corridor a 12 year extension.” Jerome said.

The Coalition is responding to a statement made by Corridor Resources that they would be seeking additional time on their Old Harry license. While the company has not yet applied for this extension, the Coalition wants to send a clear message to federal and provincial politicians and to the C-NLOPB.

“Corridor has already received two free extensions from the C-NLOPB, one in November 2011 and the second in July 2013. These free extensions amount to special treatment given to this oil company by its regulator” said Bob Diamond from SOSS-NL. “It also begs a bigger question. If Corridor can’t afford to pay for license extensions, how will they ever afford to clean up an oil spill?” he said. “ BP has set aside at least 43 billion dollars on the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Compare this to the measly billion dollar no fault liability limit that has yet to be implemented into legislation here in Canada.” said Diamond.

Coalition members including coastal landowners and fishery and tourism reps speak in a united voice, calling on federal and provincial governments to honor and implement First Nations call for a 12 year moratorium.

“Four years after the BP Gulf of Mexico spill which saw approx two hundred million gallons of oil and nearly 2 million gallons of toxic oil dispersants sprayed into Gulf waters, only 25 percent of the spilled oil has been recovered.” said Ian Forgeron, a fisherman from SOSS–PEI “Oysters are down 93%, shrimp 40-60% and scientists believe the spill harmed more than 80,000 birds, 25,000 marine mammals and 6,000 sea turtles along with coral lobsters, crabs, clams, zooplankton and starfish”, he said. Forgeron, who is also a social worker said, “Gulf of Mexico residents’ rates of anxiety, depression, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse have all increased in those communities impacted by the BP spill.”

“Since the Gulf of St Lawrence is six times smaller than the Gulf of Mexico, can you imagine what a similar spill would do to our billion dollar Gulf fishery?” said Ron Heighton, president of the Gulf NS Fleet Planning Board. “The Gulf of St Lawrence has the largest concentration of krill in the North Atlantic and among the largest lobster production in the world. The fishing industry is not willing to take this risk and we don’t want our politicians to either,” he said.

“Gros Morne, Port au Port, Bay St George in NL, Cape Breton National Park, the Cabot Trail, Magdalen Islands and Cavendish, PEI are some of the national treasures at risk.” said Margo Sheppard from SOSS-NB. “Over the years, communities, businesses and governments have invested in making this 660 million dollar tourism industry in Atlantic Canada. 17,000 jobs in communities around the gulf depend on sustainable tourism. There is too much at risk here.” adds Sheppard. “Our tourism industries for all five provinces deserve greater protection and respect from elected officials than we are currently receiving,” she said.

“Since the oil industry already has unfettered access to 88% of east coast waters, enough is enough.” said Mary Gorman of SOSS-NS. “It is high time that governments started supporting First Nations and coastal communities over corporate oil interests. We want Corridor, unelected petroleum boards and federal and provincial governments to know that oil drilling CANNOT co-exist in sensitive spawning, nursery and migratory waters in one of the most fragile ecosystems on earth. We stand with Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq First Nations in calling for a 12 year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence.”

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For more information, please contact:

  • Troy Jerome – Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat – 506.759.2000
  • Bob Diamond – SOSS-NL 709.632-4269
  • Ian Forgeron – SOSS-PEI 902.394.0044
  • Ron Heighton – Gulf NS Fleet Planning Board 902.759.2444
  • Margo Sheppard – SOSS-NB 506.476.9708
  • Mary Gorman – SOSS-NS 902.926.2128

Attachment: Letter from CNLOPB to Chiefs Pietasho and Jeannotte, Ekuanitshit Innu Council, and the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi regarding consultation and assessment for Old Harry (EL-1105), July 25, 2014 (Link: 2014_07_25_Reponse_CNLOPB)