Antigonish and Area Celebrates World Oceans Day – Antigonish, NS

Oceans link us all around the world. Come celebrate the United Nations recognized World Oceans

It is one way to recognize the important role of our oceans in providing food, cleaning our water, generating oxygen, and regulating our climate.

We can also take the opportunity to celebrate the stunningly beautiful Gulf of St. Lawrence, and say NO to offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf.

This is a family friendly event organized by Responsible Energy Action (REA) Antigonish and Ecology Action Centre and it will be held at Mahoney’s Beach, Antigonish County (Highway 337) beginning at 12 noon. Bring your picnic food and drink, chairs or beach blankets, your creative energy, and your love for our planet.

Activities include face painting by Sunshine Sue, water/ocean poetry and short story readings, including Princess Grace and the Jellyfish by Jane Moseley, numerous artists painting ‘live’ on the beach, a piping plover walk and discussion, a few songs by the Raging Grannies, a hands-on opportunity to learn about biological monitoring in our area (including how you can be part of the Community Aquatic Monitoring Program), and much more.

Pets are welcome if leashed (protecting the plover environment). Slight drizzle won’t deter us (bring your raincoat) but heavy rain will likely require a cancellation.

For more information:

Susan Eaton

or contact

Joanne Cook Marine Toxics Co-ordinator Ecology Action Centre


Migration of Endangered Blue Whale Threatened: Environmental Groups call on Newfoundland and Canada not to Approve Seismic Blasting

Press Release from Ecology Action Centre, CPAWS-NL and Sierra Club Atlantic
September 13, 2010

As a growing number of individuals and organizations call for a moratorium on testing and drilling for oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Atlantic Canadian environmental groups are calling on the Newfoundland and Canadian governments not to allow an imminent seismic blasting survey.

Plans are underway to proceed with seismic blasting off Western Newfoundland in the habitat of the endangered blue whale and other sensitive species.  An application from Corridor Resources to conduct a geohazard survey is currently before the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board.

“Seismic surveys have negative impacts on marine life, but more crucial in this case, is that they are an early step in the oil and gas development cycle.  As more and more organizations say no to oil and gas in the Gulf or raise concerns, we respectfully ask that the Government of Newfoundland not issue the requested permit to Corridor Resources,” says Mark Butler of Nova Scotia’s Ecology Action Centre.

“Important environmental, legal and jurisdictional issues are triggered by the proposed impacts and location of the blasting, so we’re also asking the federal government to get off the side-lines and protect our Gulf”, Butler added.

A seismic survey involves the blasting of very loud sounds toward the ocean floor with the reflected signal providing oil companies with a picture of the geology up to several kilometers below the ocean floor. The problem is that between the seismic vessel and the ocean floor lies a lot of water which is home to fish, mammals and turtles all of which are extremely sensitive to sound.

“We share the concerns raised by DFO in their response to the Corridor environmental assessment about the impact of the survey on the endangered blue whale” says Julie Huntington of the Newfoundland Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. “The seismic survey will be taking place in the migration corridor of the blue whales as they leave the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the fall and has the potential to disrupt their migration and distress the whales.”

The blue whales that enter the Gulf of St. Lawrence spend most of their time feeding along the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in areas like the Gaspe Peninsula. These are Quebec waters. When the whales leave the Gulf in the fall they pass through Newfoundland and Nova Scotia waters on their way back to the Atlantic Ocean.  Thus oil and gas activity in Newfoundland waters could have consequences for other provinces.

“The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a national treasure. The provinces surrounding the Gulf should be working together to conserve its natural diversity and beauty–all provinces, the federal government and First Nations should be involved in decisions that could affect shared marine resources”, comments Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director of the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Seismic blasting can also have impacts on marine invertebrates and fish. The fishing industry in Quebec and Newfoundland has raised concerns about the impact of the Corridor survey on redfish, cod, lobster and snow crab.

Canadians watched with horror as millions of gallons of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico and the entire machinery of the oil industry and United States government tried repeatedly but failed to stop the flow.

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is 6 times smaller than the Gulf of Mexico. The area where the oil company wants to drill is 400 to 500 metres deep – depths that present many of the same challenges facing emergency responders in the Gulf. This would make it a deepwater well and hence the risks of drilling and the probability of catastrophic spill increase.If the Gulf of Mexico spill is superimposed on the Gulf of St. Lawrence the spill, depending on where it is placed, extends to all five provinces. -30- For more information contact: Mark Butler-Policy Director, Ecology Action Centre Julie Huntington, CPAWS- NL

Gretchen Fitzgerald -Director, Atlantic Chapter, Sierra Club of Canada

Climate Change and Our Changing Gulf

This article is part of a series written for the Sierra Club’s Blue Whale Campaign
to protect the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Other articles examine our abundant marine life including whales, sea turtles and other threatened species. To view more articles, please visit the Blue Whale Campaign blog under the Blog tab…

By Colin Jeffrey

The world’s oceans are some of the most stable systems on the planet. Due to their massive size these bodies of water react slowly to atmospheric changes and play a pivotal role in creating our weather and climate. Vast amounts of ocean water evaporate into the air producing rainfall across the globe while ocean currents moderate our temperatures, transporting warm water towards the poles and cool water towards the equator. It takes a lot of effort to change earth’s stable oceans, but two hundred years of accelerating anthropogenic CO₂ production seems to be doing the trick. Since the industrial revolution began, our oceans have absorbed at least ninety percent of the heat and a third of the carbon dioxide (CO₂ ) produced by the fossil fueled greenhouse effect. These two inputs are changing marine ecosystems and processes. Moreover, the pace of change is accelerating rapidly as carbon dioxide emissions skyrocket.

In Atlantic Canada’s Gulf of Saint Lawrence, climate change is beginning to make its presence felt in several ways. Perhaps the most alarming development is increasing acidity in Gulf waters caused by the absorption of carbon dioxide. As CO₂ levels in the atmosphere have increased, the oceans have absorbed larger quantities which has already increased the acidity of ocean water by 30 percent. Further increases will be harmful to most marine life, particularly the many species that have shells and skeletons made of calcium carbonate since this compound is more water soluble in acidic conditions. While changes in the acidity of surface water in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence are not yet large enough to cause serious damage to marine life, acidification has increased by almost 100 percent in the deep waters of the Gulf. It appears that several factors have combined to acidify the Gulf’s deep water, particularly in the estuary of the Saint Lawrence river. Since the 1930s there has been a decrease in the amount of cold, oxygen rich water from the Labrador current entering the Gulf through deep channels. At the same time demand for oxygen has increased, most likely from an increase in microbial activity due to larger nutrient inputs from agriculture and other human activities. A 2°C temperature increase in deeper waters since the 1930s has led to further oxygen use as marine organisms become more active. Decomposing nutrients and the activity of marine organisms both produce carbon dioxide, which acidifies the surrounding water. Because these deep waters do not mix very much with other water layers, depleted oxygen is not replenished and the water gradually becomes more acidic. If the phenomenon of oxygen depletion and increasing acidity continues to spread in the deep waters of the Gulf, most bottom dwelling marine species will be negatively affected.

While impacts in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence from human driven climate change are currently small and localized, that is set to change as projected increases in CO₂ emissions drive the most rapid climatic change ever experienced on the planet. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, while similar increases in temperature did take place more than 20 million years ago, they happened over thousands of years instead of several hundred, offering some marine species time to adapt to changing conditions. If carbon emissions are not heavily reduced in coming decades, at least 30 percent of our marine species are at risk of extinction. With forecasts like this on the horizon, the current efforts of Newfoundland and Quebec to expand offshore oil and gas drilling into the Gulf make little sense. According to the latest scientific research on climate change the best thing we can do to protect our Gulf and all Canadian waters is get serious about reducing fossil fuel use.

The fight to stop drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence grows

APTN National News
A First Nations alliance says legal action may be the only way to stop oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Innu, Maliseet and Mi’kmaq Alliance is teaming up with other coalitions.

They met Thursday to brainstorm ways to continue their fight to protect what scientists call an ecologically sensitive area.

APTN’s Trina Roache has the story. View here:

Ocean Celebration Kit – Great Resource from David Suzuki Foundation

The David Suzuki Foundation has created an awesome toolkit for people wanting to protect our oceans. The Ocean Celebration Kit includes tips on getting folks together to celebrate our wonderful and imperiled oceans.

This is a great resource for volunteers wanting to get active in protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Why not host an event in your community to share stories, learn from each other, and have fun – it’s also a wonderful way to strengthen the movement to protect our Gulf!

Why not host an Ocean Celebration for the Gulf and all it brings to us?

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

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.

-30- Media Contact:

Leslie Rossiter

Oil regulators invite exploration near Newfoundland, defy federal environment commissioner ~ Globe and Mail

Heather Scoffield OTTAWA — The Canadian Press Jun. 05 2013 Oil and gas regulators in Newfoundland have done exactly what the federal environment commissioner told them not to do: issued a call for bids to explore parts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence several months before a key environmental assessment has concluded. The commissioner, who audits government operations for their environmental performance, warned the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board earlier this year to make sure strategic environmental assessments were finished before offering up parcels of the land beneath the sea. That way, companies would know what kind of measures they would need to undertake in order to properly protect the environment while exploring and drilling in marine habitat. “To maximize opportunities for protecting the environment and to ensure that potential project proponents have the environmental information to make appropriate decisions, the boards should ensure that the results of up-to-date strategic environmental assessments are available prior to issuing a call for bids,” the environment auditor said in his report last fall. The commissioner – Scott Vaughan, who has since left the post – rapped the Newfoundland board and its Nova Scotia counterpart for jumping the gun in the past, issuing premature calls for bids in all four cases examined. In one case, licences were awarded before the environmental assessment was done. “Potential bidders did not always have complete information about the environmental constraints and required protection measures until near the end of, or after, the bid preparation process,” his report noted. But on May 16, the board issued a call for bids to explore more than a million hectares of the land beneath the Gulf of St. Lawrence off the west coast of Newfoundland. Environmentalists say the area is crucial for the lobster industry, as well as redfish and cod. The call for bids was authorized by federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and provincial Natural Resources Minister Tom Marshall. That’s despite an ongoing strategic environmental assessment of the area. The assessment is meant to update previous studies to see how fragile that part of the Gulf is to oil and gas development and recommend ways to avoid damaging the ecosystem. It was ordered in 2011, in the wake of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A draft report is expected to be made public in the next few weeks, followed by six weeks of public feedback and a final report in the fall. Environmental activists who want a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf say the board has its priorities backwards. “In our mind, this is a very bad message to send to the public,” said Sylvain Archambault, spokesman for the St. Lawrence Coalition. “On the one hand, they are looking at (whether) there are places in the Gulf that are too sensitive for oil exploration. And on the other hand, they are going ahead with a call for bids… It’s the other way around that it should be happening.” The environmental assessment could very well conclude that the areas opened up for bidding should be off limits because they are sensitive habitats, Archambault said. In the meantime, regulators are signalling the Gulf is open for more business. “There’s no rush to go ahead with this call for bids. Were there political pressures? Were there industrial pressures on the board to go ahead? We don’t know.” But a spokesman for the board says the deadline for bids is four months after the environmental assessment is published this fall, so it makes no difference whether the call for bids takes place now or later. In an interview, Sean Kelly said there will be plenty of time for bidders to incorporate proper plans to protect marine life. The draft environmental assessment will be published by the end of June, already giving prospective bidders an idea of what will be expected, he said. “There is no rush,” he added. “But by putting it out now, the board feels it gives potential bidders the opportunity to consider the environmental information that exists now and the new environmental information that comes up in the SEA (the strategic environment assessment).” “At the end of the day, there won’t be any decisions made until 120 days after the SEAs are completed.” He and a spokesman for federal minister Oliver both noted that in responding to the environment commissioner’s report, the boards only agreed with his recommendation “in principle.” The boards committed to publishing environmental assessments before irrevocable business decisions are made, but they stopped short of agreeing to complete the assessments before soliciting bids. “No licences will be issued until the strategic environment assessments work is completed,” Oliver’s spokesman, David Provencher, wrote in an email. Neither Kelly nor Provencher would fully explain why the board would not wait six months until the assessment was done. But the CEO of one of the key companies involved in exploration in the area believes he has some insight. Phillip Knoll of Corridor Resources Inc. says governments and regulators are anxious to see exploration and development in the region because they need the eventual revenues and because the region needs the economic benefits of oil and gas. “We in Eastern Canada need to develop the reserves, because we need an economy here, last time I checked,” Knoll said in an interview. While he would not say whether his company was readying a bid for the newly opened parcels of land, he said he was happy to see regulators take action. “They want, of course, the industry to grow. And there’s not that much going on right now.”

Analysis suggests Harper government ‘all but abandoned’ protection of fish habitat ~ APTN National News

National News | September 1, 2015 by APTN National News
The Canadian Press

A statistical analysis of the Conservative government’s changes to environmental laws and procedures suggests Ottawa has “all but abandoned” attempts to protect Canada’s lakes and rivers.

“Over the last decade, what we’ve seen is a not-so-gradual abandonment of the fish habitat protection field,” said University of Calgary law professor Martin Olszynski.

He has sifted through reams of data and dozens of development applications to conclude that federal protection for fisheries and waterways has been declining for more than a decade.

Olszynski found environmental oversight by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans dropped dramatically during the 2000s – a time when Canada saw huge spending in the resource industries.

And he concludes changes to environmental law in 2012 weren’t intended to cut red tape, as the government suggested, but to lower the environmental bar.

“What my data suggests is that the narrative provided doesn’t add up in terms of this unduly intrusive regulatory regime. It was never really about reducing red tape.”

Fisheries and Oceans was not immediately available for comment.

In a paper for the Journal of Environmental Law and Practice, Olszynski shows the number of proposals to the department’s Central and Pacific regions fell to fewer than 4,000 by 2014 from more than 12,000 in 2001.

The drop came in two stages.

In 2004, the government decided to minimize oversight for projects deemed low-risk, which cut the number of projects it reviewed in half. The rest of the decrease came in 2012 after the government revamped environmental laws.

Over that same period, enforcement fell off a cliff.

Olszynski reports that environmental warnings and charges under the Fisheries Act fell to about 50 from about 300. Staff time allotted to enforcement dropped to 10,000 hours from 35,000.

The department’s budget was cut by $80 million in 2012. Another $100 million in cuts are planned over three years beginning this year.

The analysis shows officials are granting approvals without seeing a developer’s plans to fix any problems, despite federal law that says such plans must be approved before a project goes ahead. Olszynski’s suggests most approvals are now granted with the understanding a developer will file a plan later.

Meanwhile, records show that the pace of development on rivers and lakes has kept roughly stable. A number of studies and peer-reviewed papers have also documented rapidly increasing impacts on forests and waterways.

The federal government has argued it’s getting out of the regulatory end, so provinces can take over and duplication is reduced.

Olszynski said that if red tape alone had been the issue, it should have been solved in 2004 when Ottawa first backed off overseeing some projects.

He writes: “(Department of Fisheries and Oceans) appears to have been exemplary in reducing the administrative burden on proponents carrying out what it deemed to be low-risk activities.

“Rather, the problem appears to have been substantive; government (or) proponents, or both, deemed actual compliance (i.e. avoidance and mitigation of impacts to fish habitat) too burdensome.”

Provincial approvals for development projects still have to abide by federal law. Olszynski said his analysis shows the department doesn’t even see many of those proposals.

Scaling back assessments for low-risk developments can be a valid way to reduce regulatory burdens, Olszynski said. But to work, he said, it requires credible oversight and enforcement.

“DFO says we will reduce the burden on you, but you still have to comply with the act. What evidence is available suggests that industry did not keep their end of the bargain.

“The strong deterrent signal wasn’t there … in terms of enforcement.”

Source: APTN National News

Call To Action

Get a meeting with your MLA or MP. Face-to-face is best:

Please call and set up a meeting with your MLA or MP, of whatever party! They need to hear how important it is that our elected representatives stand up for the Gulf!

Talking points once you get a meeting:

·      Atlantic Canada has nothing to gain and everything to lose if a spill happens in the Gulf. ·      The Gulf is home to one of the most productive marine ecosystems on the planet where thousands of marine animals breed, spawn, nurse and migrate,  including commercially fished species like lobster, herring and crab. ·      The process for approving this project has left Gulf of St. Lawrence fishermen, tourism operators, waterfront property landowners, coastal communities, recreational users, maritime culture and precious ecosystems at great risk.

·      Now is the time to declare a moratorium in the Gulf.

BP Oil Spill: 1,000 Days Later

BP Oil Spill: 1,000 Days Later
January 14, 2013

It’s been exactly 1,000 days since the BP-operated oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, gushing millions of barrels of crude oil into a body of water that supports countless ecosystems and economies.

Restore the Mississippi River Delta says “It’s been 1,000 days since the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and the Gulf is still waiting.”

Check out the stunning graphic timeline of major events that have occurred in the last 1,000 days.