Stephenville NL former lobster harvester and educator weighs in on SEA report

September 17, 2013

Scott Tessier (Chair & CEO) Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) 5th Floor TD Place, 140 Water Street St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador Canada A1C 6H6

Mr. Tessier:

Re: Public Review of Draft Western Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area Strategic Environmental Assessment and Update Report

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the SEA draft report.

I have been involved in the lobster fishery for several years in the Bay St. George area. The bay is unique and special in its unusual tides and currents which can be very extreme in size and force. The bay is subject to the prevailing south westerly winds which originate in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and maritime provinces. In Bay St. George area, there are many sensitive plant and wildlife habitats including the Codroy Valley estuary and the Stephenville Crossing Gut which are resting grounds for thousands of migratory birds. Sandy Point is home to the piping plover and 8 major salmon rivers flow into the bay.

The AMEC (a consulting firm that is very active in the oil and gas industry) report mentions that a major oil spill in the Gulf has the potential to affect a vast territory because, among others, of the dynamic character of currents in the Gulf (which I support,see above) and the mobility of many species. According to the report,coastal areas could be hit (sect.5.4.1).

Regarding hydraulic fracturing, drilling projects on the West Coast of Newfoundland plan on using hydraulic fracturing, in onshore-to-offshore operations, to extract shale oil from underneath the seabed. The offshore portion of the operation falls under the jurisdiction of the C-NLOPB. While AMEC had not planned on covering that aspect of oil activities, intense concerns and public pressure on the West Coast during the Fall 2012 public consultation forced them to consider the hydraulic fracturing issue. After a very short and incomplete review of techniques and potential impacts, AMEC concludes that public concerns are sufficiently high in Newfoundland to justify more consultations and discussions before allowing this industry (sect. 5.4.2).

An important part of the report is devoted to identify sensitive or biologically important zones within the Newfoundland part of the Gulf. A careful reading of the report makes one realize that all of the Newfoundland part of the Gulf could be labelled as important or sensitive.(sect. (sect.

Apart from the proposed mitigation measures, the AMEC report does not contain any recommendations or conclusions on, for example, the relevance of issuing new exploration licenses or on sensitive zones to protect. It is worrying to learn that
recommendations will be known only next Fall, when the final SEA report will be released. Indeed the public will have no opportunity to comment on these recommendations, potentially very important for the future of the Gulf, since no other specific consultation period is planned.

I believe the C-NLOPB has little credibility and legitimacy in its present form. The Board is conducting a strategic environmental assessment to supposedly determine if it is appropriate to proceed with oil and gas development in Newfoundland’s gulf waters and at the same time it is allowing seismic testing, issuing licenses, making land ownership and control agreements with oil companies and otherwise facilitating oil and gas exploration and development.

I will be asking our Provincial and Federal governments to enact a moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence until they have established a more democratic governance and ecosystem based management system and until oil and gas exploration and development are subject to a credible independent, science based environmental assessment process.

I am recommending that the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board : – defer the issuing of any new exploration licenses in the Newfoundland offshore area; – cancel the call for bids issued on May 16th 2013 for four parcels in the Newfoundland offshore area; – refrain from giving authorizations to projects currently submitted in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, including Corridor Resources’ Old Harry project or Black Spruce Exploration’s Western Newfoundland drilling program.

– submit to public scrutiny the recommendations and conclusions of the final SEA report.

Sincerely, Wayne Hounsell

Stephenville, NL

Cc. Kathy Dunderdale, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Stephen Harper, Prime Minister, Government of Canada Tom Hedderson, Minister of Environment and Conservation, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

Tom Marshall, Minister of Natural Resources, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

Interprovincial Panel Explores Impacts of Fossil Fuel Development in Newfoundland

On Sunday, February 1st, 2015, a public forum and panel discussion was held in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University. The 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 and Newfoundland and Labrador representatives of the  Save our Seas and Shores  organization  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.

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

Port au Port Bay Fishery Committee


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.

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

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)

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?”

The Council of Canadians raises concerns about fracking in Newfoundland

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.


For more information or to arrange an interview:

Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685,
Twitter: @CouncilOfCDNs |

Lessons in offshore safety – how is Canada responding?

This blog appears with permission from Ocean Resources.

Lessons in safety By Ryan Van Horne

Ocean Resources

It has been more than 30 years since Canada’s worst offshore tragedy.

In February 1982, the drill rig Ocean Ranger sank off Newfoundland with a loss of 84 lives. A Royal Commission that criticized industry for poor safety training, equipment, and lax inspection spurred a profound shift in Canada’s offshore.

The Ocean Ranger disaster isn’t the only accident that has an effect on safety in the offshore.

In July 1988, a fire aboard Piper Alpha, a North Sea production platform off Scotland, claimed the lives of 167 men. It is still the worst offshore accident in terms of lives lost.

In March 2009, Cougar Flight 91, which crashed off Newfoundland and Labrador with a loss of 17 lives, led to the Wells Inquiry, headed by former Newfoundland judge Robert Wells. That inquiry made a number of recommendations, most notably the creation of an autonomous and dedicated safety regulator.

More recently, the offshore safety debate was fueled by the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. The drill rig exploded, killing 11 crew. The ensuing oil spill was the largest in U.S. history.

With so many tragedies from which to derive lessons, it’s fair to ask if Canadian governments, regulators and industry have learned enough and reacted appropriately.

That’s a question Richard Grant asks often. Grant is the president of Grantec Engineering Consultants Inc., a Hammonds Plains, NS, firm and vice-chair of the Canadian Strategic Steering Committee on Offshore Structures Standards.

“With respect to Ocean Ranger, a large number of lessons have been learned, including those pertaining to proper training of personnel on the rigs, emergency evacuation systems, response times and survival suits,” said Grant, who was a staff member at the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) from 1997 to 2002.

The same cannot be said for lessons that should have been learned from Piper Alpha, Grant says. Piper Alpha was designed as an oil production platform but later converted to gas production, which is what it was being used for when it was destroyed by fire.

Grant says the Canadian Offshore Installation Regulations, which date back to the 1980s, have not been updated to capture issues relating to fire and explosion safety on offshore platforms.

“Other jurisdictions, namely the UK and Norway, have worked diligently and quickly to address the shortcomings pertaining to fire and explosion safety,” says Grant.

For example, in 1995 the UK Health and Safety Executive (HandSE) introduced new regulations for the prevention of fires and explosions for offshore installations.

The HandSE also switched from a certification approach to a verification approach. A key aspect of this is that inspections of offshore installations are performed by “independent competent persons.” Canada, says Grant, is still using the dated pre-Piper Alpha certification approach.

Deepwater Horizon was an example of what can happen when you cut corners, Grant says. It also underscored the diligence required by regulators and the U.S. moved quickly to address that.

Other major players in the offshore industry, such as the United Kingdom, Norway and Australia, have switched to autonomous and dedicated safety regulators, something Grant says is necessary for the substantial reform needed in Canada.

Grant hopes it does not take another offshore disaster in Canada for governments to take a critical look at the regulatory regime. While he advocates a single national regulator, the most important area to focus on is improving the quality of inspections.

Inspectors “need to be highly skilled and they need to know what they are looking at,” Grant says.

There are several benefits to a single safety regulator, he adds, such as consistency, effectiveness and efficiency, and improved safety.

A big problem in Canada is the glacial pace of regulatory change.

“In the past 10 years only one such regulation has been produced for the Atlantic Canadian offshore – the drilling regulations. This speaks volumes about the inefficient regulatory development process in Canada.”

Grant found “many significant deficiencies in the Canadian offshore regulations” while he was with the CNSOPB, and little has been done to correct that.

There are three offshore regulators in Canada: the National Energy Board, the CNSOPB, and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), with the possibility of more.

Grant would like to see a review of the Canadian offshore regulatory system, similar to the one Australia did in 1999 when it used a team or respected international offshore safety specialists.

Andrew Younger, the energy critic for the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia, introduced a private member’s bill in the legislature last fall, urging the NDP government to start a conversation with the federal government about a single safety regulator.

Although the bill didn’t pass, that conversation has begun – with Ottawa and the Newfoundland and Labrador government.

“We are working with them to ensure we have structures in place that reflect regulatory best practice for safety,” says Nova Scotia Department of Energy spokeswoman Tracy Barron. “Justice Wells has raised serious issues and it’s important for us to consider his findings.”

Stuart Pinks, CEO of the CNSOPB, thinks Canada has learned from previous accidents and says the safety regime in Nova Scotia is “robust” and the track record proves its adequacy.

“Does it mean that it is absolutely perfect and there can’t be some improvements?” says Pinks. “No, there’s always improvements that can be made and we’re constantly making improvements.”

The Nova Scotia and Newfoundland boards were created consistent with recommendations of the Hickman inquiry into the Ocean Ranger disaster. While some argue that the structure makes safety take a back seat, Pinks disagrees.

“Our decision-making hierarchy is set up such that safety and environmental protection are paramount in our decision making,” he says.

After the Wells inquiry, the CNSOPB looked for ways to give further separation to decision making.

The CNSOPB set up a separate committee at the board of directors’ level — the health, safety and environment committee – “to make sure that health, safety and environment are receiving the paramountcy in decision making that the board has dictated that it should,” says Pinks, who used to be the board’s chief safety officer. “Safety is No. 1 in my mind.”

Newfoundland and Labrador made a similar change based on the Wells inquiry, said C-NLOPB spokesman Sean Kelly.

“We have separated safety and operations to make two departments instead of one,” said Kelly. “Both departments will work closely together to ensure the Board maintains proper oversight of all aspects of offshore safety.”

Some argue that the safety regulator should not have any other role, such as approving exploration licenses. The flip side to that, though, is that the CNSOPB can make sure that safety maintains top priority.

“There are some significant advantages of an integrated regulator and I’ll give you a really good example with our last call for bids,” Pinks says, referring to Shell Canada’s pitch to drill in deep water.

All bidders had to submit a separate technical qualification bid with their commercial bid. If a company did not demonstrate proficiency in drilling in deep water – and experience doing so in the last 10 years – their commercial bid would have been returned unopened.

“We can move health, safety and environmental protection and additional measures right up front to assure that we are only granting licences to qualified and competent companies,” says Pinks.

The CNSOPB co-operates closely with its counterparts in Newfoundland and other jurisdictions. The board is also a member of the International Regulators Forum and routinely compares its regulatory regime to that of other major players in the offshore industry.

“I can pick up the phone and call the UK or Norway and say we’ve got such and such an issue in our offshore,” says Pinks. “Being able to talk to them is a real benefit for us.”

About 10 years ago, Pinks says industry lamented that the level of oversight in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland’s offshore was costly. After Deepwater Horizon, industry expressed gratitude that Atlantic Canada has such a strong regulatory regime.

Nova Scotia has enough challenges such as climate and tricky geology, it shouldn’t make reaping the benefits of its offshore resources more difficult by having an unnecessarily sticky regulatory regime.

For oil companies, time is money and so their biggest concern with the regulatory process is efficiency.

“They want a process that holds them to high standards, but is done in the most expedient way possible,” Pinks says.

Canada is switching to goal-based regulations because technology advances quickly and prescriptive regulations can become outdated.

Prescriptive regulations set goals for what industry must achieve in terms of managing safety and managing environmental protection. It allows for the adoption of new technology and new practices very quickly.

This presents a challenge, though, as the job of a safety inspector becomes more difficult under a goal-based regime.

“The competency expectations of your inspectors and your surveyors does go up under a goal-based regime,” Pinks says.

To account for that, CNSOPB has what he calls “a robust training budget” and much of that training is done internationally.

Proponents of a separate safety regulator point to the benefits of such a change, but it must be remembered that it is not a panacea. In the United Kingdom, which has a powerful and autonomous safety regulator, there were two helicopter crashes around the same time that Cougar Flight 91 crashed into the North Atlantic – one three weeks before and the other three weeks after.

There are inherent dangers in the offshore industry and proponents of change would be wise not to focus solely on the structure of a safety regulator.

Even Justice Wells did not do that, although his name has become synonymous with that idea.

Wells said the safety on offshore installations has been greatly improved and that helicopter travel is probably the most dangerous part of the industry.

Many criticized Transport Canada following Cougar Flight 91, but it is not simply an aviation issue. There are risks with respect to flying helicopters in an ocean environment and industry needs to mitigate those as much as possible.

Lastly, anyone responsible for improving offshore safety would do well to heed this advice from Justice Wells.

“The bright light of public scrutiny is the best way to ensure … we get safety right, while at the same time understanding that it is an ongoing journey which never ends at a final destination.”

Native groups seek oil and gas moratorium in Gulf of St. Lawrence ~ CTV news

CTV News
July 8/2015

MONTREAL — Quebec must impose a 12-year moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to give time for a comprehensive assessment on possible risks to the ecosystem, the chiefs of three native groups said Wednesday.

The waters of the St. Lawrence are vital to the livelihoods of the Innu, Mi’kmaq and Maliseet nations and should be protected, they told a news conference in Montreal as the Assembly of First Nations continued its annual meeting.

They also asked federal party leaders to tell voters ahead of this fall’s election where they stand on the protection of the Gulf from development.

Mi’kmaq Chief Scott Martin said he feared an environmental catastrophe in the St. Lawrence similar to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that devastated parts of the southern U.S. coastline.

Martin added there are currently “numerous knowledge gaps” within oil-industry reports on risks associated with drilling along the waterway.

“The gulf is a highly productive body of water and diversity is very rich,” he told reporters. “No one can tell us what effect a blowout like a Deepwater Horizon can have on the food chain.”

Martin said he wants an “integrated assessment” of all the risks involved with resource exploitation in the area before Quebec grants exploration or drilling permits.

The chiefs said they decided the moratorium should last 12 years after calculating the time they thought it would take to conduct studies, write reports and consult the public.

Resource exploitation along the St. Lawrence River cannot be carried out without their consent, the chiefs said, adding the Supreme Court of Canada ruled native people must be consulted and accommodated before their territory can be used for commercial development.

Some chiefs were more hard line than others.

Innu Chief Jean-Charles Pietacho said his people won’t be silenced with petrodollars.

“Never will I accept royalties that come from (the oil and gas sector),” he said.

Anne Archambault, grand chief of the Viger Maliseet First Nation, was more nuanced in her comments, saying she needed to consult her people before deciding on royalties.

She said her people’s ancestral rights to the Atlantic salmon “take precedence over oil,” adding 95 per cent of her community’s revenue comes from the salmon industry.


Ethan Hawke to help Mi’kmaq oppose Gulf of St. Lawrence oil exploration ~ CBC

First Nations from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec holding event on Monday By Elizabeth McMillan, CBC News Posted: Oct 23, 2015

(Leonard Adam/Getty Images)

Actor Ethan Hawke will be lending some of his star power to First Nations groups in eastern Canada that oppose oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The leadership of the Paqtnkek, Listuguj, Gesgapegiag and Gespeg First Nations will be holding a joint press conference and water ceremony Monday by the coast at 577 Summerside Road in Afton, which is in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia.

Hawke will be a special guest and is scheduled to answer questions following a press conference. The four-time Oscar nominee who is known for films such as Training Day, Dead Poets Society and Boyhood has property in the area.

Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, says First Nations groups and organizations like the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition have been working to raise awareness for years and a big name like Hawke’s can bring new attention to their concerns.

Potential oil not going anywhere

The group is calling for a 12-year exploration moratorium, which Jerome says is needed so the government can conduct a comprehensive review.

“The public should be saying the same thing the Mi’kmaq, the aboriginal people, are saying. Show us a study before you think about drilling in there,” he said.

“It’s unproven, but even if there’s oil there, it’s not disappearing.”

Jerome says people who live in the region — which includes the four Atlantic provinces and Quebec — haven’t been adequately consulted, but also haven’t been that engaged.

He hopes Hawke’s profile will encourage the public to push for more information about how drilling and any potential blowouts could affect the area.

“If there’s an oil spill it’s going to go on the shores of Newfoundland, by some spill scenarios, up all the way up the St. Lawrence River. No one really knows,” he said.

Coming on the heels of the recent federal election, Jerome hopes the event sends a message to industry and the new federal government.

“By having his (Ethan Hawke’s) presence, it raises a level of exposure to another level,” he said. “The timing turned out to be very good.”

‘Chronically’ under radar

Mary Gorman of the Save our Seas and Shore Coalition says tens of thousands of jobs in the fishing and tourism industries could be impacted by offshore drilling.

“We have been fighting this battle before Keystone, before Northern Gateway, before Energy East. All of these battles have taken precedence over our battle,” she said.

“There will be oil on the coast of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland if our politicians are foolish enough to let this proceed. And yet we chronically fall under the radar. And that’s why Ethan is helping us.”

​Hawke has voiced concerns about the environmental risks of offshore drilling before.

In 2011, he released a statement with the David Suzuki Foundation and the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition in a campaign calling for the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in the gulf.

The site of Monday’s ceremony is close to where Donald Marshall Jr. was arrested for fishing eels out of season, which led to a landmark 1999 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that guaranteed aboriginal treaty rights to fish and hunt.

Paqtnkek councilllor Darlene Prosper says Monday’s events will begin with a water ceremony scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

Source: CBC News

Ethan Hawke guest at event to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence ~ The News

The News
October 22, 2015

Actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke is lending his voice to the efforts to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from off shore petroleum exploration.

Hawke, who owns property in Tracadie, Nova Scotia, is going to be a guest at a water ceremony and press conference where the Chiefs of the Paq’tnkek First Nation and the Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi (Gesgapegiag, Gespeg and Listuguj) as they make an important statement on Monday that outlines the significance of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to both Nations and calls for immediate actions to Protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Mary Gorman, of Pictou County, has been a long time activist for the Save our Seas and Shores Coalition and said this event is significant.

“We’re very grateful to the Mi’gmaq elders chiefs and their councils for protecting the gulf of St. Lawrence from offshore oil and gas development,” Gorman said. “We never would have been able to keep the oil industry out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the past 17 years without the Mi’gmaq leadership.

She said it’s great to have the support of Hawke who is coming on his dime to the event.

This venue for the conference is of historical significance. The site was the location for the events that led to the Marshall Decision which gives aboriginal people the right to make a living from fishing and hunting as based on early treaties between the British and Aboriginal people.

It’s because of that right that the aboriginal community believes they should be heavily involved in consultation about projects that could impact the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Troy Jerome of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat said they are concerned because there are off shore petroleum boards that are being organized with the intention of looking at drilling off shore.

“This could totally disrupt our way of life,” he said. “We need to be consulted.”

He said they want to know what kind of effects the drilling could have. He also believes that more people throughout the Atlantic provinces need to know what’s going on.

“We think this kind of event and having a big name like Ethan Hawke could raise awareness,” he said.

The event will take place on Monday at 1 p.m. at 577 Summerside Road, Antigonish.

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

The press conference will draw attention to the threat to the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence posed by offshore oil and gas development.

The Leadership of the Innu and the Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gwa’gi formed a coalition in October 2013 to work together to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This coalition was formed with the intent to speak with one voice to protect the Aboriginal and Treaty rights and title throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence from potential hydrocarbon exploration.

Source: The News

Corridor Resources sidesteps million dollar fee ~ Halifax Media Co-op

Latest Old Harry extension sees Atlantic Accord ratified for cash-strapped company

by Miles Howe
January 18, 2016

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) — It seems like Corridor Resources has some well connected friends. On Friday, January 15, the oil and gas company received yet another extension to its Old Harry exploration lease in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This time, federal ministers and their provincial counterparts in Newfoundland ratified the existing Atlantic Accord legislation, so that Corridor can sidestep the $1 million it would have earlier had to pay to extend and secure this lease.

The Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, the arm’s length organization in charge of finalizing offshore leases for the province, explained this ratification as being related to regulatory factors that had hindered Corridor’s ability to drill a validation, or exploratory, well. That, or it could just be that Corridor Resources, like so many junior exploration and extraction companies, is going broke and hasn’t been able to afford the price of an offshore well.

Corridor, as of January 18th, was in a year long nose dive and was trading at 44 cents per share. Without a senior partner to fund the Old Harry project, and with the federal government dragging its feet on the necessary Environmental Assessment of the project, for the moment it seems like the Offshore Petroleum Board is content to keep Corridor on some kind of life support system.

Mary Gorman, co-founder and spokesperson, Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition. (Credit:

It’s not sitting well with Mary Gorman, of the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition, who feels like its time to pull the plug on Corridor once and for all and on top of that instill a drilling moratorium in the ecologically fragile Gulf of St. Lawrence.

(Listen to Halifax Media Coo’s excellent interview with Mary Gorman who speaks about Corridor, Old Harry, and the general disillusionment felt after decades of fighting to protect the Gulf.)

Source: Halifax Media Coop