Coalition Applauds NL Offshore Inquiry Recommendations

Save Our Seas and Shores PRESS RELEASE:

November 19, 2010

Nova Scotia – Save our Seas and Shores, a coalition of fishermen, environmental groups and First Nations, is urging provincial and federal governments to implement the recommendations put forth by Commissioner Robert Wells in his report on safety in the offshore oil industry.

“Commissioner Wells has recommended that responsibility for safety for workers be taken from the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board and be given to an independent and powerful agency. We couldn’t agree more,” says Gretchen Fitzgerald of Sierra Club Canada. “For over a decade now, our coalition has said that Canada’s offshore petroleum boards are in a conflict of interest as both promotors of oil development and protectors of workers and the environment,” she said.

“These unelected Boards don’t have the expertise or scientific qualifications to make responsible decisions to protect habitat, ecosystems or fish stocks from the impacts of oil and gas.” says Dr. Irene Novaczek, a UPEI marine scientist. “The time is long overdue for real science-based policy development and a legitimate strategic assessment on our energy future,” she said.

“Most recently, the Canada-Newfoundland Board allowed seismic testing to proceed during the migration of endangered blue whale and cod, in spite of being warned by seismic experts that such actions would impede the recovery of these species in peril,” said Mark Butler of the Ecology Action Centre. “I can cite other examples of  decisions made by these boards that put the interests of the oil industry ahead of protecting the environment, placing our ecosystems in danger. This cannot continue,” he said.

“Under Canada’s current offshore regulatory structure in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, there will be five unelected provincial boards in conflicts of interest as both promoter of oil and protector of nature. Each board will be authorizing seismic, exploratory and exploitive drilling, in isolation of each other, in one semi-enclosed body of water. This is mismanagement at its worst and a disaster waiting to happen,” says Mary Gorman of Save our Seas and Shores Coalition.     

After the Gulf of Mexico spill in the US, President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar separated the promotion of offshore oil and gas development from the protection of worker safety and the environment. The Governments of the UK and Norway have enacted similar measures.

The coalition is calling for a moratorium on oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence because of the vulnerability of the region which is home to over 2000 marine species with sensitive life stages of marine organisms that are present year around.