Coalition member is guest presenter at national Citizens Climate Lobby conference

Mary Gorman – screenwriter, founding member of Save our Seas and Shores and grand prize winner of the Green Heroes Award was invited to present at the Citizens Climate Lobby first national conference. This recognition by a national NGO is an important breakthrough for our work in protecting the Gulf. Kudos to Mary Gorman!

New Glasgow News Sueann Musick

November 14, 2013

MERIGOMISH, NS – Mary Gorman will be taking her concerns over climate change and its effect on the ocean to a larger stage this weekend.

As founding member of the Save Our Seas and Shores coalition, Gorman will be a guest panelist at the Citizens Climate Lobbyists first national conference on Sunday in Gatineau, Que.

CCL is a growing organization of local volunteers in the United States and Canada in favour of a revenue-neutral carbon tax to help decrease the high amount of carbon emissions.

“The oceans are vast carbon sinks,” said Gorman. “In the 200 years since the industrial revolution began, our oceans have absorbed about 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released into our atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide dissolves in the surface water and forms carbonic acid, lowering the pH of ocean waters. The more CO2 the oceans absorb, the more acidic they become. There are serious concerns about the ability of marine ecosystems to adapt to acidification. Organisms that form calcium carbonate skeletons and shells will be greatly limited in their ability to form these outer protective shells. Commercial species such as lobster and shellfish are vulnerable to this impact.”

Gorman said the economy cannot continue to exist if government leaders ignore climate change. For example, she added, the Calgary floods and the recent typhoon in the Philippines are perfect examples of enormous costs if we don’t acknowledge that the climate is changing.

“What are natural disasters costing us?” she asked. “It is dumb economics to ignore our natural world. It is a giant credit card that is maxed out,” she said. “We can’t borrow anymore and we aren’t even making minimum payments.”

She said the conference is a good chance for her to inform people on a national level about the fragility of the ocean as well as share her views on the opposition to drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition says the Gulf of St. Lawrence’s multi-billion dollar renewable fishery and tourism industries deserve protection. The group wants the government to place a moratorium on oil and gas exploration so that these industries are not in jeopardy like those hurt in the Gulf of Mexico this past summer.

Other guest panelists at the conference include Dr. Shi-ling Hsu, author of The Case for a Carbon Tax, Sam Daley-Harris, founder of the anti-poverty organizations Results and current CEO for the Centre for Citizen Empowerment and Transformation as well as Celine Bak, president of Analytica Advisors and co-lead of The Canadian Clean Energy Coalition.

Cathy Orlando, national manager for Canada’s Citizens Climate Lobby, said Gorman was invited to be a guest speaker at the national conference because she supports a carbon tax and it will allow her to speak about her concerns in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

She said a carbon tax is levied on the carbon content of fuels such as coal, gas or oil and the extracted revenue is collected by the government and returned to Canadian citizens in the form of rebate cheque.

Experts believe the extra tax will force users of these fuels to cut down on their consumption in order to save money, alternatively looking at more natural sources of energy.

She said members at the conference and those of the CCL will be lobbying members of parliament to instate a carbon tax in Canada.

“Political will is keeping this from happening,” said Orlando. “There is a lot of fear in what a carbon tax will entail, but we know that we can have a low carbon economy and everyone can come out ahead.”

Newfoundland Petroleum Board gives go ahead to oil and gas exploration in Gulf of St. Lawrence

K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax) –  Just last week the National Geographic ran a story about the lush diversity of life in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, life that persists despite overfishing, climate change and other man-made pressures. The story featured gorgeous photos.

Environmentalists in Nova Scotia are becoming increasingly worried that oil and gas exploration will soon put all this beauty at risk.

They look at the release yesterday of a Strategic Environmental Assessment by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) as another nail in the Gulf’s coffin.

The assessment includes an area in the Gulf known as Old Harry, about 80 kilometers east of the Magdalen Islands and right on the cusp of the territorial boundary between Québec and Newfoundland. The northern tip of Cape Breton is roughly 130 km south of Old Harry.

Old Harry is believed to contain 2 billion barrels of oil, which makes it almost twice the size of the Hibernia oil field. It also holds 7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The report’ suggest that oil and gas exploration can proceed in principle as long as measures are put in place to mitigate the many risks the report identifies. Measures that will be spelled out on a case by case basis.

Mary Gorman is a spokesperson for theSave our Seas and Shores coalition (SOSS), a group that wants a total ban on all oil and gas activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“This is a report that is almost schizophrenic,” Gorman tells the Halifax Media Co-op. “The report goes on for hundreds of pages about how sensitive this region is and then it comes up with recommendations that are completely disconnected from the report itself.”

Gorman is not surprised.

“You have a Board that has never said no to any project, and you have the largest oil and gas industry service provider in the world writing the report, this process has been a fait accompli since the beginning,” says Gorman.

Gretchen Fitzgerald, spokesperson for the Atlantic chapter of the Sierra Club agrees with Gorman’s analysis. She believes that the Petroleum Board’s dual mandate of promoting offshore oil and gas development and protecting the environment can not be reconciled.

Fitzgerald also points to flaws in the report itself.

“There are certain things that the report doesn’t address, like the possibility of an oil spill when the Gulf is frozen over, and scientists have said that there is no way to mitigate that,” says Fitzgerald.

“The Newfoundland ferry was stuck in the ice a couple of times this winter and can you imagine a massive cleanup in that kind of environment? We are not ready for that, and the [federal] Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable development had raised that issue in a study.”

This is not just a Newfoundland story. All five provinces bordering the Gulf of St. Lawrence could be affected by the Newfoundland decision if an oil spill were to occur.

An earlier story in the Halifax Media Co-op describes how water originating at the Great Lakes and brought to the Gulf via the St Lawrence River doesn’t just exit neatly into the Atlantic Ocean. Like a flushing toilet it swirls and it moves around.

Exploration could start as soon as next year.

Corridor Resources has applied for permission to drill for oil and gas in the Old Harry area. An environmental asssessment of that particular project is expected to be completed in a matter of months, if not weeks.

Environmentalists consider the Strategic Environmental Assessment a set back, rather than a defeat.

Sylvain Archambault, spokesperson for the Coalition St. Laurent, a broad inter-provincial coalition of environmental groups and coastal communities, believes that the findings of the strategic assessment can be used to hold the CNLOPB to account when it concludes project-specific evaluations.

“If you read the report there are so many sensitive biological and ecological zones, so many species at risk, so many gaps in scientific knowledge, so many stress factors already there. Reading all that it is hard to believe that the [Corridor Resources] project can go ahead,” says Archambault.

Archambault mentions a determined indigenous resistance to oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as another hurdle that exploration proponents will face. An alliance among Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq First Nations in Québec released astrongly worded statement this afternoon, blasting the CNLOPB for its lack of consultation with Aboriginal peoples.

Archambault also tells the Halifax Media Co-op that he has reasons to believe that opposition to oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is set to grow in Newfoundland in the coming months.

There is also the matter of an independent evaluation of the Corridor Resources project that was mandated by then federal Environment Minister Peter Kent.

Former New Brunswick liberal leader Bernard Richard found to his surprise that the independent review he was hired to lead was first postponed and then cancelled by the CNLOPB.

Both Gorman and Archambault say that they will continue to press for that independent review to occur.

“It is never the end of the battle,” says Gorman. “Now is the time for our politicians to step up to the plate and start representing the people who have placed their faith in them, the fishermen and the small business tourism industries, and the 50,000 renewable jobs that these groups represent, our First Nations also.”

“We will press for the independent review that this board arbitrarily abandoned,” says Gorman. “And we need to press the feds to take a look at this entire offshore regulatory structure, clearly these Boards are incapable of both promoting development and protecting the environment.”

“We are dealing with the mentality of greedy competitors who are only looking at these waters as exploitable assets, without considering renewability and the sacredness of biodiversity.”

Here is the link to the story on the Media Co-op website.

Shell’s deepwater deal spurs calls for independent safety agency in Nova Scotia (Canadian Press)

[NOTE: Our Coalition has been calling for this for two years! See our statements here and here.]


September 6 2012

Shell Canada Ltd.’s recent winning bid to conduct deepwater oil exploration off Nova Scotia has renewed calls to establish a separate safety agency independent of the federal-provincial offshore regulator.

The petroleum giant has committed to spending $970-million over six years in the hopes of finding oil in four deepwater parcels about 200 kilometres off the province’s southwestern shore.

The return of exploration drilling off the Scotian Shelf for the first time since 2005 would be in depths ranging between 1,400 to 3,750 metres.

While Shell is reputable when it comes to its deepwater drilling expertise, the volatile North Atlantic presents some of the “harshest offshore environments in the world,” said Richard Grant, an engineer and expert on safety issues related to offshore drilling rigs

Mr. Grant, who worked on the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board from 1997 to 2002, said there needs to be an increased level of scrutiny that the board lacks the resources to exercise. The development of safety regulations was often a slow process, he said.

“What we need to have is one agency that is looking after offshore safety, that develops the regulations and enforces them,” Mr. Grant said.

He supports the findings of Robert Wells, a retired Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court judge who called on Ottawa and the provinces to establish a separate offshore safety agency along the lines of those operating in Australia, Norway and the U.K.

Mr. Wells made the recommendation after leading an inquiry into the March 2009 crash of Cougar Flight 491, which killed 17 people as it was ferrying offshore oil workers. He found serious flaws with the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, saying it lacked transparency and autonomous safety staff which could contribute to a conflict of interest.

Critics have accused the boards of a conflict of interest because they are tasked with developing offshore resources while also verifying that the operators are complying with their safety and environmental plans.

The board says it has separated its safety and operations duties into two separate departments and has passed along Mr. Wells’ recommendation for a separate agency to Ottawa and the provincial government.

Last fall, Nova Scotia Liberal MP Andrew Younger tabled a private member’s bill calling on the provincial government to enter negotiations with Ottawa aimed at creating one federal safety regulator.

The government has said it is talking with the federal government and counterparts in Newfoundland about the Wells inquiry recommendations.

Larry Hughes, a Dalhousie University engineering professor, said he believes safety has to be dealt with by an arms-length agency, given evidence that emerged following the blowout of a BP well in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
The explosion killed 11 workers and caused the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

“We saw what happened … when the Mineral and Mining Services of the United States unfortunately had an extremely cosy relationship with the oil companies and things got lax,” said Mr. Hughes.
“I’m not saying that’s happening here, but it’s the type of thing we want to make sure doesn’t happen.”

Stuart Pinks, CEO of Nova Scotia’s petroleum board, said his agency has a “very robust regulatory regime” that is constantly being improved.

Drilling and production regulations have been updated in December 2009 that give oil and gas companies guidance on how best to comply, Mr. Pinks said.

There is also oversight of drill rig fitness certification by the board’s nine safety officers who do their own verification reviews, he added.

“As lessons are learned from incidents such as what happened in the Gulf, our guidelines are reviewed and revised where necessary to capture some of the latest practices that will reduce risk.”

The board said 12 deepwater wells have been drilled off Nova Scotia since 1978, with the last being the Crimson well in 2,100 metres of water off the Scotian Shelf in 2005.

Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition and Gulf NS Herring Federation response to SEA report

Sept 18, 2013

Scott Tessier Chair and CEO Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board Fifth Floor, TD Place 140 Water St.

St. John’s, NL A1C 6H6

Dear Mr. Tessier:

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the CNLOPB’s  Strategic Environmental Assessment Update for western NL(2013).

We are very, very disappointed by the narrow, inadequate terms of reference for this SEA Update report, and the subsequent deficiencies in this environmental assessment.

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a vital, sensitive ecosystem of great marine diversity, productivity and importance to the coastal communities of NS, NB, PEI, QC and NL. It is also a globally significant ecosystem in fragile health due to  ocean acidification and hypoxia that requires immediate protection from further industrial development as well as restorative actions to maintain its sustainability.

Because the stakes are so high, a Strategic Environmental Assessment in the Gulf  must  be transparent, include extensive Gulf wide public engagement and seriously acknowledge the unknown implications from many gaps in scientific knowledge and understanding of how this complex ecosystem functions.

The acknowledgement in this SEA report of vulnerable marine mammals, rare turtles, lobster, krill, herring, capelin, redfish and plaice, to name a few, and cod ─ of special concern ─ in the designated western NL area, PROVES  that this marine region is too sensitive a body of water for offshore oil and gas seismic surveys and exploratory drilling to proceed. We will explain more but first, we have to be honest and specific with you.

The public consultation process was severely flawed.  For example, SOSS Coalition and the Gulf NS Herring Federation did not receive an invitation to the meetings held at the Board’s discretion in Sydney NS, even though our ongoing efforts over the past three years helped to generate these very consultations.  SOSS’ PEI Branch was similarly excluded from the stakeholder meeting in Charlottetown. The public event on PEI was poorly and briefly advertised, and hidden in the basement of a hotel far from the coastal communities that will face the greatest risks from petroleum development.

1)      The report on the Public Consultations in this SEA is very difficult to evaluate and in our opinion, grossly understates  the obvious lack of social acceptance by those of us who live near and rely upon the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  It makes light of our deep concerns for our sustainable environment, livelihoods, culture, property values and quality of life.

2)      The SEA understates and does not adequately address the short and long term risk factors of offshore development and exploratory drilling at Old Harry, in western NL and throughout the Gulf. These shortfalls stem from the narrow terms of reference and cookie cutter approach of this assessment, e.g., the SEA only addresses the limited scientific knowledge we have about the waters within the man-made boundaries of the NL portion of our Gulf.

3)      The SEA disregards the long and short term, cumulative negative impacts of chronic exploitation and degradation that this development would bring to the coastlines and waters of western NL and throughout our Gulf.

4)      It does not address the inability to ‘mitigate’ an oil spill in a Nor’easter under winter ice (or any time of year),  in a semi-enclosed sea with five provincial coastlines, chronic strong winds and tides, and counter-clockwise currents that only flush into the Atlantic once a year. The counter-clockwise currents could carry pollutants to the coasts of every province in Atlantic Canada over the course of a year.

5)      The SEA does not address the inevitability of increasingly erratic, severe weather patterns, hurricanes and ocean storms due to the acceleration of climate change, nor does it explain how to clean up any spill that could occur during such a storm.

6)      The SEA does not offer a solution to the lack of preparedness to respond to an oil spill by Canada’s Coast Guard, the CNLOPB and the offshore oil and gas industry –
(Canada’s offshore oil spill response outdated, audits found )

7)      It does not deal with the issue of liability and compensation to stakeholders negatively impacted by an oil spill ─ people whose livelihoods could be destroyed. For instance, herring fishermen in Alaska near where the Exxon Valdez spill happened have not seen the herring come back 22 years later.

8)      The other fatal weakness of this assessment is that it does not acknowledge or address ocean acidification and hypoxia in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, or deal with how fragile the Gulf’s productivity and health are at this point in time.

According to DFO’s State of the Oceans reports (2010 and 2012), in the Gulf of St. Lawrence:

“Recent and historical data reveal that hypoxia is progressively worsening in the deep waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, especially at the heads of the Laurentian, Anticosti and Esquiman channels. The lowest levels of dissolved oxygen were recorded in the Laurentian Channel, where measurements have routinely been in the range of 20% saturation since the mid-1980s.”

What is Hypoxia?

“Around the world, marine hypoxia — a shortage of dissolved oxygen — is a growing problem that can have dramatic impacts on marine life and ecosystems. A decline in oxygen in seawater is now recognized as one of the likely consequences of global warming, because warmer water does not hold as much oxygen…”

According to DFO’s Impacts of Emerging Climate Issues:

“Low oxygen (hypoxia) has dramatic impacts on aquatic ecosystems, and the tolerance of marine fish and invertebrates to this condition is highly species dependent. At oxygen levels below 30 percent saturation, cod and other species that are intolerant of hypoxia either migrate to other geographic regions or die. Deoxygenation is now recognized as one of the likely consequences of climate change. The long term observations analyzed by DFO scientists have provided insight into climate change over the decades and the growing knowledge and awareness of hypoxia (dead zones) in Canadian waters”.

We conclude that hypoxia has reduced the resilience of the Gulf and its inhabitants, compromising the ability of the ecosystem to cope with further degradation such as seismic blasting, chronic pollution from offshore rigs, and related marine traffic.

What is Ocean Acidification?

According to DFO’s Impacts of Emerging Climate Issues:

“The earth’s oceans are vast carbon sinks. In the 200 years since the industrial revolution began, the oceans have absorbed about 30% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released by the burning of fossil fuels. But this climatic benefit has come at a cost. Carbon dioxide dissolves in the surface water and forms carbonic acid, lowering the pH of ocean waters. The more CO2 the ocean absorbs, the more acidic they will become. There are serious concerns about the ability of marine ecosystems to adapt to acidification. Organisms that form calcium carbonate skeletons and shells, such as coccolithophores and pteropods (food source for salmon), will be greatly limited in their ability to form their outer protective shells since a decline in pH decreases the saturation state of CaCO3. Commercial species such as lobster and shellfish are also vulnerable to this impact.”

According to DFO’s State of the Oceans report:

“Ocean acidification is a global threat with potential impacts on marine food webs, ecosystem productivity, commercial fisheries and global food security. This threat has prompted the international scientific community, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, to investigate the implications of this significant international governance issue.

Each year, about one third of the carbon dioxide (CO2) in fossil fuel emissions dissolves in ocean surface waters, forming carbonic acid and increasing ocean acidity. Over the next century or so, acidification will be intensified near the surface where much of the marine life that humans depend upon live.

The ocean surface is becoming more acidic with increasing atmospheric CO2, and acidity has increased by about 30% since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Estimates of future carbon dioxide levels, based on “business as usual” CO2 emission scenarios, indicate that by the end of this century, the surface waters of the ocean could be nearly 150% more acidic, resulting in a pH (a measure of acidity) that the oceans haven’t experienced for more than 20-million years and raising serious concerns about the ability of marine organisms to adapt. This scenario is based on information provided by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Monitoring ocean acidification and assessing its potential impacts are essential to the development of an ecosystem approach to managing the marine resources that are likely to be affected by this global threat.”

While ocean acidity levels are increasing by 30% globally, DFO estimates that ocean acidity levels have increased by 50 – 90% in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  There is scant knowledge about how reduced oxygen and increasing acidity interact with increased loading of petroleum products and other persistent organic pollutants.  Additionally,  ultraviolet light, which enhances the toxicity of pollutants in the marine environment, has increased owing to the depletion of atmospheric ozone in recent decades, and it is clear that the Gulf requires protection from any further assault.  Rather, its vulnerability calls for immediate restorative action.


The SOSS Coalition notes that this environmental assessment is important because it will provide the framework to determine whether offshore development should proceed in Canada’s ecologically sensitive Gulf, whose beauty and bounty annually supports multi-billion dollar fishery and tourism industries across five provinces.

We believe the CNLOPB has not met its responsibility as an ‘independent regulator’ because the assessment does not conform with the Ecosystem and Precautionary mandates of the UN Convention on Biodiversity, and Canada’s Oceans Act.  The narrow terms of reference fail to recognize the vulnerable state of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and also, ignore the reality that offshore drilling will negatively impact areas beyond the constantly moving waters of the designated offshore leases in western NL.

We maintain that the concerns voiced by the people of the Gulf deserve a fair, impartial hearing. The BP Deepwater Horizon, an exploratory well that went horribly wrong, shows that serious long-term impacts do occur, especially during exploration. Three and a half years after the BP disaster, with billions of dollars spent, only 3% of the oil has been recovered from the Gulf of Mexico and shrimp are now surfacing deformed, with no eyes. We also know that herring fishermen in Alaska near the Exxon Valdez spill site have still not seen the herring come back, 22 years later. We have to prevent disasters like these from happening here.

We are extremely concerned that the federal government is dismantling environmental regulations governing petroleum development instead of strengthening them, and we are left at the mercy of unelected provincial petroleum boards. These boards have conflicting mandates for petroleum industry development, worker safety and environmental health.  In our coalition’s opinion, the structure of these Boards enables the focus to be more on development, backed up by industry consultants who focus on ‘mitigation’ of negative impacts, instead of protecting vulnerable and poorly understood ecosystems from development.

Three years after the Wells inquiry, the CNLOPB still has not implemented Justice Wells’ recommendation that a separate regulator for safety and the environment be established, in spite of subsequent safety incidents on NL rigs. The Board’s unwillingness to take this particular recommendation seriously makes it difficult for us to trust in this process or to feel that the CNLOPB is functioning as a neutral regulator to protect the long term public interest.

We can’t help but question the neutrality and judgement of the CNLOPB when it has hired the global giant, AMEC to conduct this SEA.  AMEC is one of the world’s leading engineering, project management and consultancy companies whose clients include BP and Shell. According to the company’s website, “Our shares are traded on the London stock exchange where the company is included in the FTSE 100 Index and listed in the Oil Equipment and Services Sector. We offer services which extend from environmental and front end engineering design before the start of a project to decommissioning at the end of an asset’s life.”

Therefore, Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition and the Gulf NS Herring Federation want to state on the public record that:

The SEA Update Report of Western NL 2013 is not an accurate assessment of the designated area. While it acknowledges the diversity of marine life and thus, the sensitivity of these waters, it understates the paucity of scientific understanding of the ecosystem, the gaps in knowledge and data, and the lack of social sanction for exploration in the Gulf.

Further, it does not prioritize or even place in context the ecological fragility of the Gulf of St. Lawrence due to ocean acidification and hypoxia; and it diminishes the socio-economic and cultural importance of the renewable fishing and tourism livelihoods, people, animals, recreation, coastal communities, and vulnerable ecosystems throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence that could be negatively impacted by offshore oil and gas development at Old Harry and in western NL.

In our opinion, this type of cookie cutter SEA, conducted by only one of the five affected jurisdictions and without substantive public engagement, is not only inadequate, it is unethical.  It minimizes the dangerous, and perhaps irrevocable, negative impacts that offshore oil and gas development could have on vulnerable marine life and on the tens of thousands of fishing and tourism jobs, in hundreds of coastal communities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

In the fragile waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, marine species spawn, nurse and migrate year around.  Given the sensitivity of the Gulf, and given that the Gulf’s historic stakeholders (inshore fishermen, coastal landowners, small business/tourism operators and First Nations among others) have survived for centuries on this globally significant ecosystem, we submit that it is unreasonable and unethical to proceed with offshore oil and gas development.

We wish to remind the CNLOPB  and the governments of Canada and the five Atlantic provinces that if the offshore oil and gas industry is sincere about ‘co-existence’, it must concede that some bodies of water are too sensitive for offshore oil and gas development ─  including the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, which is a semi-enclosed sea that has already suffered significant degradation. How safe are larvae, spawn and all the sensitive life stages of marine organisms, if all of the waters that marine species breed in are up for grabs by the offshore oil and gas industry?  We are convinced that our Gulf needs to be protected by a moratorium on petroleum exploration, coupled with efforts to conserve and restore the ecosystem.

We wish to remind you that even with moratoria in the Gulf of St Lawrence and Georges Bank, the offshore oil industry would still have access to over 88% of Canada’s East coast waters.

We are recommending that the CNLOPB refrain from any and all development in the waters along the western coast of NL and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and work inter-provincially and with the federal government to develop a Gulf-wide, arms-length and truly independent Environmental Review Panel process that will allow for effective and respectful public consultation.  The scope of such a process must be open to public debate, and the process must conform to the highest international standards for strategic environmental assessment in sensitive and globally significant ecosystems.

Respectfully submitted,

Mary Gorman Save Our Sea and Shores Coalition, Merigomish NS Greg Egilsson Chairman, Gulf NS Herring Federation, Pictou NS

Dr. Irene Novaczek, marine biologist, Breadalbane PEI


The Hon. Joe Oliver MP / Minister of Natural Resources The Hon. Leona Aglukkaq MP / Minister of Environment The Hon. Gail Shea MP / Minister of Fisheries The Hon. Peter MacKay MP / Minister of Justice The Hon. Thomas Mulcair MP / Leader of the Official Opposition Justin Trudeau MP / Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada Elizabeth May MP / Leader of the Green Party of Canada Wayne Easter MP Lawrence MacAulay MP Rodger Cuzner MP Sean Casey MP Kathy Dunderdale, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Darryl Dexter, Premier of NS Robert Ghiz, Premier of PEI Pauline Marois, Premier of Quebec David Alward, Premier of New Brunswick Charlie Parker, NS Minister of Energy

Clarrie Mackinnon MLA Pictou East

Innu, Mi’gmaq and Maliseet form political coalition to protect Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas exploration

GESPEG, QC, Oct. 29, 2013

CNW Telbec

The Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Chiefs announced today they have formed a Political Coalition to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from the dangers posed by oil and gas exploration.

On October 23, 2013 the Chiefs signed – during the Chiefs Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador – a Memorandum of Understanding – see it here Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq National coalition for the protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence   setting out the Coalition’s main objectives: • Speak with a common voice on issues related to the Gulf of St. Lawrence; • Protect Aboriginal and Treaty Rights and Title throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence; • Prepare and table with the Government of Canada and the Government of Québec a joint Aboriginal and Treaty Rights and Title Claim to the Gulf of St. Lawrence;

• Develop an Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Accord in response to the “Accord between the Government of Canada and the Government of Québec accord for the shared management of petroleum resources in the Gulf of St. Lawrence”.

“Since time immemorial, the waters and shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence have been used and occupied by the Innu to the north and the Maliseet and Mi’gmaq to the south, for purposes including fishing, hunting, and travel. Our three peoples were the first trading partners of the French from the time that Champlain sailed into the Gulf’s waters over 400 years ago”, declared Chief Claude Jeannotte on behalf of Mi’gmawei Mawiomi. 

“The tiny reserves the federal government set aside for the Innu, Maliseet and the Mi’gmaq out of their vast territory are now found around the Gulf, located in Québec, Labrador, on the Island of Newfoundland, in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.  Beyond those lands, however, our three peoples continue to use and occupy the waters of the Gulf, exercising their Aboriginal and treaty rights and the title that they have never surrendered”, declared Chief Jean-Charles Piétacho on behalf of the Innu Nation from Québec explained.

“These facts mean that we have rights that are recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Among other things, these rights mean that the federal and provincial governments are obliged to consult and accommodate us in order to avoid any irreparable harm to the exercise of our rights. Serious infringements of our rights require our consent” (1), declared Grand Chief Anne Archambault, on behalf of the Maliseet Nation.

About the Coalition: 
The Coalition is formed by the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Nations and intended to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from the dangers posed by oil and gas exploration. The Coalition speaks with a common voice on issues related to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Coalition spokesperson are Chief of Gespeg Claude Jeannotte and the Executive Director of Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, Troy Jerome.

(1) Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), [2004] 3 SCR 511, para. 47, 24.

SOURCE: For further information: Troy Jerome Cell.: 1-506-759-2000

Email: tjerome[at]

Want to Frack? Bye Bye UNESCO Status …

The elite World Heritage status for Gros Morne National Park is in jeopardy again, this time because a buffer zone has not been established to protect it from fracking.

Last year, oil and gas leases near Gros Morne were cancelled by Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial government because of threats to its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Today, UNESCO is recommending that buffer zones for natural resource extraction be established to ensure the spectacular and globally unique features of Gros Morne are truly protected.

More on this story, go here …

Groups call for moratorium on petrol exploration in Gulf

The News, New Glasgow, NS
Published on October 16, 2014

HALIFAX – Just days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced joint plans with the government of Quebec to introduce legislation allowing for oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, several groups in Eastern Canada are renewing their calls for a moratorium.
Following an announcement made by the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’kmaq Alliance in Halifax last July, when First Nations called for a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence, representatives from Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition are meeting in Halifax this week to announce their support for the Alliance’s demand.

The organization is also calling on the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) to stop issuing licence extensions, free or otherwise, to Corridor Resources for EL-1105 at Old Harry in the Gulf of St Lawrence.

“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. “It makes no sense for the C-NLOPB to issue another licence extension to Corridor Resources when First Nations have called for a 12-year moratorium, unless they plan to give Corridor a 12-year extension.”

In a letter from Scott Tessier, chair and chief executive officer of the C-NLOPB, dated on July 25 and addressed to Aboriginal leaders in Quebec, he noted his appreciation of the input into the proposed offshore program from Aboriginal leaders thus far. The letter was mum on details for further participation from the public.

“While there is a substantial amount of information on our website pertaining to the Old Harry environmental assessment, the board has not yet explicitly requested input from the public or aboriginal communities,” the letter read.

The Coalition is responding to a statement made by Corridor Resources in their second quarter results that indicated the resource company would be looking for more time on its licence.

“The C-NLOPB… indicated that additional consultations on Corridor’s Old Harry Environmental Assessment (EA) are required in order for the C-NLOPB to finalize the EA,” the press release stated. “Corridor is seeking additional time to execute on its licence given the requirement to complete additional consultation. Corridor is seeking additional time to execute on its licence given the requirement to complete additional consultation.”

While the company has not yet applied for this extension, the Coalition wanted to send a clear message to federal and provincial politicians and to the C-NLOPB that further extension wouldn’t be tolerated.

“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,” said Mary Gorman. “We stand with Innu, Maliseet and Mi’kmaq First Nations in calling for a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence.”

Coalition members include coastal landowners, fishery and tourism representatives and concerned members of the public.

“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.”

Attempts to reach a representative of Corridor Resources Inc. were unsuccessful at press time.

On Twitter: NGNewsJohn

Islanders can help name blue whale

It’s not the kind of pet you can take home, but Islanders will soon have a chance to help name a blue whale living in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.Zack Metcalfe is one of the organizers for a group working towards raising awareness for protecting endangered species and commercial fish species in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.The unique naming contest is just one of the ways the campaign, which is a collaboration between Save Our Seas and Shores and the Sierra Club, hopes to raise that awareness during the next several months.

Metcalfe said that contest is also being run with the Mingan Island Cetacean Study.

“We’re picking a blue whale that they’ve identified that hasn’t been named yet and we’re going to put it to public opinion to toss in their name suggestions,” said Metcalfe during an interview with The Guardian at a “Blue Whale Bash” in Charlottetown Sunday.

The day saw a lobster raffle, live music and local food at the Farm Centre.

There was also a life-sized baby blue whale poster children could colour in and write messages on, as well as displays describing the marine life found in the gulf.

Metcalfe said the focus is not just whales, but all critically endangered species and commercial fisheries in the gulf.

“The blue whale is only our poster boy because it is the largest, most beautiful and one of the most threatened species out there,” he said, and pointed to a recent U.S. study from the University of Vermont. “Whales play an absolutely critical role in fishery ecosystems … they actually create energy in an ecosystem and thus allow for more fish, so they actually increase fish stocks.”

Much of the campaign’s cause is also motivated by opposition towards oil and gas exploration in the gulf.

Seismic testing has already been done in the gulf, while discussions over any future development continue.

Colin Jeffrey, the campaign’s other organizer, said the group wants individuals to start a debate on oil and gas development as well as look at other negative impacts such as increasing runoff pollution, overfishing and marine traffic.

“The idea is to get more information out there about how rich in marine life our gulf is, it’s really a nursery for a lot of our marine species,” said Jeffrey. “A lot of fish species come into the gulf where the waters are calmer and shallow and they lay their eggs there.”

Jeffrey said the group will educate the public on the many species in the gulf until the campaign ends sometime next January. Each week, a different species will be detailed online.

Jeffrey said more information on the campaign is available through links on the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club’s and the Save Our Seas and Shores’ websites.

New Brunswick to join the race to the bottom

We will be following how citizens, organizations, and Indigenous peoples respond to New Brunswick’s intention to enter into the fossil fuel industry’s exploitation of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. NB has plans to approach Ottawa to “negotiate a potentially lucrative offshore accord” says The Telegraph-Journal. Read the article here.


Tories want offshore agreement

Adam Huras May 11, 2013

The Telegraph-Journal

FREDERICTON – The Tory government says it wants to search New Brunswick’s waters for potential offshore oil and natural gas deposits and has plans to approach Ottawa to negotiate a potentially lucrative offshore accord.

The government’s newly released blueprint [see page 30] to guide the development of the oil and gas resources says the province has spent the past two years developing a plan to negotiate a Canada-New Brunswick offshore agreement with the federal government.

That work has included a review of the provincial water boundaries.

Government staff has also searched out scientific data from seismic and exploration activities that took place in New Brunswick waters between 1965 and 1985 in efforts to find an existing resource.

Energy Minister Craig Leonard pointed out on Friday that existing onshore petroleum discoveries extend from St. Stephen and fan out in a “V” shape running along the southern coast of the province’s east and then as far north as Miramichi.

“That might extend out into the ocean,” Leonard said. “The issue that we’ve got now is that we do not have an offshore accord with the federal government unlike the provinces around us.

“There are some spots that companies in those provinces are looking at that are actually very close to the New Brunswick boundary.” In 1985, the federal government and Newfoundland signed the Atlantic Accord, an agreement reached in 1985 to manage offshore oil and gas resources in the waters next to that province.

That name was also used to describe a 2005 cash transfer agreement between Ottawa and both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

The agreement allows the two provinces to keep energy revenues that would otherwise be subtracted from its equalization payments from the federal government.

Nova Scotia has received $867 million – the value of exempting energy revenues from equalization – over eight years under the agreement. The accord has meant roughly $5 billion to Newfoundland.

Quebec has its own separate, lucrative deal.

New Brunswick’s offshore areas comprise approximately 2.3 million hectares, or 24 per cent of the province’s total onshore and offshore area of 9.6 million hectares, according to government.

Leonard said existing seismic and exploration data completed decades ago can now be reviewed and reprocessed with new technology to get a better sense of any resources that could be there.

Seismic testing data has been collected in the past from the Northumberland Strait, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Bay of Fundy.

“The offshore may contain significant oil and natural gas reserves,” reads the blueprint document.

“Successful exploration, development and production is now taking place in the offshore of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, under federal/provincial offshore accords with those provinces, with the potential for the same in Quebec’s offshore.

“Due to New Brunswick’s geographical proximity to current potential development, negotiating a similar offshore accord is therefore in the best interests of the province.” The province wants to see New Brunswick as the “principal beneficiary” of its offshore petroleum resources in any agreement with the federal government.

“We feel it is prudent to take the steps to get an accord put in place,” Leonard said.”Not only does it protect us for future benefits or royalties and development revenues, but also that there is a strong regulatory framework set up in our territory that has strong environmental and social protections.” Energy consultations held in 2011 headed by co-chairmen Jeannot Volpe and Bill Thompson resulted in a recommendation to government for an offshore oil and gas agreement with the federal government.

In an initial energy blueprint released by government the same year, a single sentence stated the province would be seeking to resume discussion with Ottawa toward a joint offshore management regime.

The new blueprint states that a first phase to better understanding the province’s offshore resource will be by “maximizing the benefits of existing geophysical exploration well data, seismic, and other geological information.” New Brunswick will also seek to partner with the Natural Resources Canada and the Geological Survey of Canada, which could result in the collection of additional seismic and geophysical data in New Brunswick’s offshore areas, according to Leonard.

The energy minister said talks with the federal government are in their infancy, but that they are something New Brunswick plans to dedicate staff to and pursue.

“They seem open to the concept because they would like to see set rules in place in the entire area as well,” Leonard said.”It could be a prolonged discussion, or it could be something that could be done relatively quickly.”