October 14, 2014
K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax NS) – Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition is calling on the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) to stop issuing license extensions (free or otherwise) to Corridor Resources for EL-1105 at Old Harry in the Gulf of St Lawrence.
Following up on the announcement made by the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Alliance in Halifax last July, wherein First Nations called for a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence, representatives from SOSS-NS, NB, PEI, QC and NL are meeting in Halifax this week to announce their support for the Alliance’s demand.
“There is a duty to consult First Nations that has not been upheld thus far in this process.” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. “In the enclosed attachment C-NLOPB acknowledges: ‘The Board has not yet explicitly requested input from the public or aboriginal communities’. It makes no sense for the C-NLOPB to issue another license extension to Corridor Resources, when First Nations have called for a 12-year moratorium – unless they plan to give Corridor a 12 year extension.” Jerome said.
The Coalition is responding to a statement made by Corridor Resources that they would be seeking additional time on their Old Harry license. While the company has not yet applied for this extension, the Coalition wants to send a clear message to federal and provincial politicians and to the C-NLOPB.
“Corridor has already received two free extensions from the C-NLOPB, one in November 2011 and the second in July 2013. These free extensions amount to special treatment given to this oil company by its regulator” said Bob Diamond from SOSS-NL. “It also begs a bigger question. If Corridor can’t afford to pay for license extensions, how will they ever afford to clean up an oil spill?” he said. “ BP has set aside at least 43 billion dollars on the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Compare this to the measly billion dollar no fault liability limit that has yet to be implemented into legislation here in Canada.” said Diamond.
Coalition members including coastal landowners and fishery and tourism reps speak in a united voice, calling on federal and provincial governments to honor and implement First Nations call for a 12 year moratorium.
“Four years after the BP Gulf of Mexico spill which saw approx two hundred million gallons of oil and nearly 2 million gallons of toxic oil dispersants sprayed into Gulf waters, only 25 percent of the spilled oil has been recovered.” said Ian Forgeron, a fisherman from SOSS–PEI “Oysters are down 93%, shrimp 40-60% and scientists believe the spill harmed more than 80,000 birds, 25,000 marine mammals and 6,000 sea turtles along with coral lobsters, crabs, clams, zooplankton and starfish”, he said. Forgeron, who is also a social worker said, “Gulf of Mexico residents’ rates of anxiety, depression, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse have all increased in those communities impacted by the BP spill.”
“Since the Gulf of St Lawrence is six times smaller than the Gulf of Mexico, can you imagine what a similar spill would do to our billion dollar Gulf fishery?” said Ron Heighton, president of the Gulf NS Fleet Planning Board. “The Gulf of St Lawrence has the largest concentration of krill in the North Atlantic and among the largest lobster production in the world. The fishing industry is not willing to take this risk and we don’t want our politicians to either,” he said.
“Gros Morne, Port au Port, Bay St George in NL, Cape Breton National Park, the Cabot Trail, Magdalen Islands and Cavendish, PEI are some of the national treasures at risk.” said Margo Sheppard from SOSS-NB. “Over the years, communities, businesses and governments have invested in making this 660 million dollar tourism industry in Atlantic Canada. 17,000 jobs in communities around the gulf depend on sustainable tourism. There is too much at risk here.” adds Sheppard. “Our tourism industries for all five provinces deserve greater protection and respect from elected officials than we are currently receiving,” she said.
“Since the oil industry already has unfettered access to 88% of east coast waters, enough is enough.” said Mary Gorman of SOSS-NS. “It is high time that governments started supporting First Nations and coastal communities over corporate oil interests. We want Corridor, unelected petroleum boards and federal and provincial governments to know that oil drilling CANNOT co-exist in sensitive spawning, nursery and migratory waters in one of the most fragile ecosystems on earth. We stand with Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq First Nations in calling for a 12 year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence.”
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For more information, please contact:
- Troy Jerome – Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat – 506.759.2000
- Bob Diamond – SOSS-NL 709.632-4269
- Ian Forgeron – SOSS-PEI 902.394.0044
- Ron Heighton – Gulf NS Fleet Planning Board 902.759.2444
- Margo Sheppard – SOSS-NB 506.476.9708
- Mary Gorman – SOSS-NS 902.926.2128
Attachment: Letter from CNLOPB to Chiefs Pietasho and Jeannotte, Ekuanitshit Innu Council, and the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi regarding consultation and assessment for Old Harry (EL-1105), July 25, 2014 (Link: 2014_07_25_Reponse_CNLOPB)
HALIFAX, July 16, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ – Chiefs from the three Aboriginal peoples that have always occupied the waters and shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence called today for a moratorium on oil and gas development they say could endanger the region and infringe on their rights.
Chiefs representing the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Nations, whose communities straddle the borders of Québec,New Brunswick and Nova Scotia gathered in Halifax to call on the federal and provincial governments to conduct an integrated environmental assessment for the Gulf as a whole before considering any exploration.
“All of us, Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq, depend on the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence for our livelihoods,” said Chief Jean-Charles Piétacho of the Innu community of Ekuanitshit in Québec.
As the Chiefs spoke in Halifax, where they were meeting for the Assembly of First Nations annual general assembly, boats belonging to the Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi (Gaspé) were set to arrive at the proposed drill site at Old Harry and leave a buoy to mark their presence.
“Our intention is to show that together, we own and occupy the Gulf,” said Chief Claude Jeannotte of the Mi’gmaq community of Gespeg in Québec.
Currently, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) is conducting the environmental assessment of an exploration well proposed at Old Harry, a location only 80 km from Québec’s Magdalen Islands. The federal government will soon allow oil and gas activities in the western part of the Gulf to be decided by a joint body to be formed with Québec that will have jurisdiction over waters from Anticosti Island to the Lower North Shore, including a few kilometers from the Island of Newfoundland. The southeastern Gulf is the responsibility of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.
A report published by Québec in 2013 concluded that a catastrophe on the scale of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico is “plausible” if oil and gas exploration or development proceeds in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
“The Gulf is a unique and fragile ecosystem,” said Chief Candice Paul of the Maliseet community of St. Mary’s inNew Brunswick. “The Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq peoples have depended on the Gulf since time immemorial and we will not stand for its destruction.”
SOURCE Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq nations
For further information:
English Troy Jerome
Cell. (506) 759-2000
French Serge Ashini Goupil
The newly minted Blue Whale Campaign is rushing to the aid of this gentle giant in our Gulf.
Although blue whales made the endangered species list in 2005, their critical habitat has yet to be formally identified, opening its vital feeding and breeding grounds to offshore fossil fuel development.
The Old Harry oil prospect, 80km off Newfoundland’s west coast and 460 metres underwater, is expected to be drilled in 2015 by the Halifax based Corridor Resources. This oil prospect happens to be located in the Laurentian Channel, which houses the North Atlantic’s largest known concentration of krill, the blue whale’s nearly exclusive source of food.
“In my opinion, the Gulf contains critical habitat for the endangered blue whale even though it has not yet been identified,” said Mary Gorman with the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition, a parent organization of the Blue Whale Campaign.
If successful in its search for fossil fuels, Corridor Resources will open the door to other offshore projects in the region. Besides potential oil spills, these projects threaten the blue whale with extensive seismic testing, collisions with oil tankers and destruction of food stocks.
Organizers Zack Metcalfe and Colin Jeffrey are spearheading the Blue Whale Campaign, bringing public awareness to the dangers posed by fossil fuel development in the Gulf.
“With a population so small, the slightest misstep at Old Harry could spell the end of the blue whale,” said Metcalfe, a journalist volunteering full time with the Sierra Club Atlantic. The ultimate goal of this campaign is to establish a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf.
“The more you know about our incredible Gulf of St Lawrence, the harder you will work to protect it,” said Jeffrey, a graduate of Dalhousie University’s Master of Resource and Environmental Management program. He’s spend the last two years working in defence of the Gulf, volunteering with the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition.
In order to promote their message, organizers of the Blue Whale Campaign are seeking your help. The campaign now has a webpage on which concerned members of the public can donate to support the cause. You can become a “Krill Donor” with as little as $10, or a “Cod Donor” for $20 and work your way up the food chain. The campaign’s ultimate goal is $10,000 in donations by August 20. All donations are tax deductible.
To learn more about the blue whale campaign or to donate, please visit bluewhale.causevox.com.
For more information:
Halifax, NS – A coalition of fishing, environmental, tourism, and indigenous groups is looking for the Atlantic Premiers to work together to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence at their meeting this week. Recent peer reviewed science has shown oil spilled in Gulf of St. Lawrence could affect other provinces around the Gulf.
“Newfoundland’s oil industry will have everything to gain from opening up the Gulf to oil – and other industries and provinces have everything to lose,” according to Mary Gorman of the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition. “This is a precious, shared ecosystem. The Premiers need to be talking about working together to protect it.”
Discussing the Gulf should also be top of mind for the Premiers in light of recent environmental assessment by Newfoundland’s offshore board giving a green light to oil and gas development off Newfoundland’s West Coast.
The Coalition points to concerns raised by Gulf scientists stating that any oil spilled from Old Harry will land on PEI, NS as well as NL’s western coast (http://saveourseasandshores.ca/2013/11/pelletier-interview/).
“The science is clear that the Gulf is on the knife’s edge in terms of industrial development,” according to Dr. Irene Novaczek, Science Advisor to the SOSS-PEI Chapter. “ We know our Premier is concerned and we hope he will bring these concerns to the table at these meetings.”
“We have been calling for a stop to oil and gas development in the Gulf for over a decade,” says Gretchen Fitzgerald of Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, “Dangerous oil development could go ahead by the end of this year. It’s about time it made it on the agenda when our Premiers talk.”
Background: Oil spill modeling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/9/5/054001/article
For more information, contact:
902-926-2128 (h) / 902-759-5963 (mobile) / email@example.com
Dr. Irene Novaczek
902-964-2781 / firstname.lastname@example.org
902-444-3113 (office) / 902-444-7096 (mobile) / email@example.com
In recognition of International Oceans Day, Save Our Seas and Shores PEI (SOSS PEI) is inviting everyone to a beach walk and potluck Picnic at the Shore to be held on Sunday, June 8 in the PEI National Park at Cavendish. Park and meet at the beach access point across from Bonnie Acres Drive. The beach walk will begin at 10 a.m.and the picnic will follow at 12 noon. Please bring a contribution of food to share, and your own dishes, cutlery and chairs or blanket.
“We want to celebrate the beauty and bounty of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” said Ellie Reddin, chair of SOSS PEI. “The Gulf is our part of the global ocean, home to approximately 6,000 marine species, and it is up to us to appreciate and protect it. As we look out at the Gulf from the North Shore, or travel over it in a boat, the Gulf seems vast and powerful; it may be difficult to understand that it is indeed a fragile ecosystem, vulnerable to the effects of pollution and climate change. But if we look at a map, we can see how small it is compared to Hudson’s Bay or the Gulf of Mexico and, in that sense, more susceptible to environmental damage.”
SOSS scientific advisor Irene Novaczek will lead a beach walk to point out some of the beneficial plant life found in nearshore waters. “Most people cannot love what they do not know, and will not stand up to protect what they do not love. It is time for all Islanders” says Dr Novaczek “- cradled on the waves as we are – to learn to love and respect the sea, because the sea is critical to our survival, and our economic activities are causing it serious damage. Let’s start by learning to recognize, name and value the beautiful marine plants that nature provides as food and medicine, supplements to soil and gardens, and habitat for the myriad creatures that live in inshore waters.”
For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or checkwww.saveourseasandshores.ca.
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Contacts: Ellie Reddin, 566-3600, email@example.com
Irene Novaczek, 964-2781, firstname.lastname@example.org
For immediate release – May 8, 2014
Charlottetown – The report of the Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board this week recommending that oil and gas exploration and development can “generally proceed” in the Gulf of St. Lawrence comes as a disappointment to local environmentalists. The update on the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) acknowledged but did not respond to concerns expressed by scientists and citizens from across the region who took the time to participate in the SEA update. They pointed to the huge risks associated with exploration and drilling, to the marine ecosystem of the Gulf, and to communities that depend on fisheries and tourism.
The report indicates that some places within the Gulf may require special consideration, but it fails to address the key feature of the Gulf, which are its semi-closed nature, its ice-cover for part of the year, and the way in which currents flow. “In the event of a spill or leakage, oil would disperse widely, with disastrous effect,” says Ian Forgeron, a member of the PEI chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores.
The Gulf supports a rich ecosystem which includes several species of whale, from beluga to blue and sperm whales; the largest breeding colonies of puffins in North America, as well as lobster, snow crab, Bluefin tuna and what is left of the northern cod. People and communities around the Gulf have depended on this rich ecosystem for their existence: fishing and hunting, aquaculture, tourism. The economic value of commercial fisheries has been estimated at $1.5 billion annually. Eel and salmon in the estuaries are a source of income for First Nations communities throughout the region.
Jordan MacPhee, a UPEI student and member of SOSS PEI points out that the Gulf is already under pressure from overfishing and climate change. He says that against this background, oil and gas extraction must be seen as a very real threat. And, he says, what happened in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico has shown us what kind of devastation can happen. “Even when the highest level of technology is applied, there is room for human error. The environmental impacts of the BP blow-out are still being felt. Livelihoods were destroyed, and people continue to report critical health effects, in part from the chemicals used to disperse the oil.”
Locally, several communities have passed resolutions calling on the Government of PEI to work towards a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf. Regionally, a coalition of Innu, Maliseet and Mi’kmaq people has formed to protest oil and gas development in the Gulf, and call for a moratorium. Similarly, in Quebec all of the municipalities in Gaspésie and les Iles de la Madeleine have joined together and have demanded a moratorium.
“We need a moratorium now”, says Forgeron. “There is too much at risk. We need to see the Gulf for what it is – one of the world’s most beautiful and rich ecosystems – and preserve it. Particularly as the inherent risks of exploration and drilling in the Gulf are at the expense of the existing fishery, tourism, and other sectors so important to the Prince Edward Island economy.”
May 7, 2014
The Sierra Club Canada Foundation and Save Our Seas and Shores are condemning the Newfoundland offshore board’s finding to allow the oil and gas industry to gain a toehold in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board released the results of a Strategic Environmental Assessment for Western Newfoundland on May 5th.
“This decision confirms that these offshore boards are not capable of being a truly arms-length independent regulator,” according to Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director of the Atlantic Canada Chapter of Sierra Club. “The consultations performed as part of this assessment were woefully inadequate – and their decision that that they can mitigate oil development in sensitive marine areas with spawning, nurseries and migration happening year around for over 2200 marine species is irresponsible and sets a reckless precedent.”
The report and public consultations for the environmental assessment were performed by AMEC, which boasts on its website that it is the world’s “largest oil and gas industry services provider.”
This same offshore board approved seismic testing – which involves deafening blasts from underwater air guns – in the Gulf of St Lawrence, while endangered blue whales were migrating in 2010.
“I want this alleged regulator to state how they think they can clean up an oil spill under winter ice,” states Mary Gorman of Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition. “ This winter, they couldn’t even get the Newfoundland ferry unstuck in sea ice – how would they deal with a massive oil disaster? Furthermore, they have completely ignored the fact that the Gulf of St Lawrence has counter clockwise currents like a toilet, that only flushes once a year into the Atlantic, leaving months for a spill to wash on the beaches of NS, NB, PEI, NL and QC.”
The offshore board’s decision was released just days after the publication of the May edition of National Geographic Magazine, which features a stunning article and images of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The article closes with the quote: ”The good news is we get to choose—algal weeds or whales, oil-eating bacteria or seals. We get to choose because for now the gulf is still wild with life, with trillions of individual organisms, and a great many hopes and dreams.”
Mary Gorman, Save Our Seas and Shores, 902.926.2128
Gretchen Fitzgerald, Campaigns Director, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, 902.444.3113 (office), 902.444.7096 (cell), @SierraClubACC
Link to National Geographic Feature, The Generous Gulf: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/05/gulf-of-st-lawrence/dunn-text
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, email@example.com
Twitter: @CouncilOfCDNs | www.canadians.org/fracking
PRESS RELEASE For Immediate release Sept 25, 2012
Offshore Regulator’s Impartiality Questioned
Save Our Seas and Shores, a coalition trying to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from offshore oil and gas development is ‘uncomfortable’ with the Canada Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board’s (CNLOPB) choice to conduct the Strategic Environmental Assessment for ‘Old Harry’ and western NL in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
AMEC Environment & Infrastructure (AMEC) is a division of AMEC, one of the world’s leading engineering, project management and consultancy companies whose clients include BP and Shell. According to the company’s website, the company is on the London Stock Exchange in the Oil Equipment and Services Sector, and offers ”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.”
“We have apprehension with the Board’s choice because of this company’s involvement in offshore oil development.” said Greg Egilsson, president of the Gulf NS Herring Federation, who represents 430 licensed herring fishermen in Nova Scotia’s Gulf region.
The coalition points out that CNLOPB’s Chairman, Max Ruelokke, worked for AMEC’s East Coast Oil and Gas division prior to being appointed Chairman of the CNLOPB in 2006.
These types of relationships between the regulator, the contractors and the industry have recently caused concern with respect to Keystone XL’s oil pipeline development, when a State Department Environmental assessment was done by a company with ties to the promoter.
“We deserve a fair, impartial hearing. Fish are surfacing deformed in the Gulf of Mexico after BP’s spill; and herring fishermen in Alaska near where the Exxon Valdez spill happened, have not seen the herring come back 22 years later. We have to prevent disasters like these from happening here,” said Egilsson.
The coalition notes that this environmental assessment is important because it will provide the framework to determine whether offshore development should proceed or not in Canada’s ecologically sensitive Gulf, whose beauty and bounty feeds multi-billion dollar fishery and tourism industries for five provinces annually.
“Because the stakes are so high, this assessment MUST be transparent and respectful of science, especially the many gaps in scientific knowledge and understanding of how our ecosystems work. The BP Deepwater Horizon, an exploratory well that went horribly wrong, shows that serious long-term impacts do occur, especially during exploration. Yet the federal government is dismantling regulatory protections instead of strengthening them, and we are left at the mercy of unelected provincial boards.” said Dr. Irene Novaczek, director of the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI.
“These boards have conflicting mandates for petroleum industry development, worker safety and environmental health. They have consistently focused on development, backed up by industry consultants who focus on ‘mitigation’ of negative impacts, instead of protecting vulnerable and poorly understood ecosystems from development,” said Novaczek.
“How can they even consider risking valuable renewable marine resources to access non renewable fossil fuels, when there is an excess of bitumen coming out of Alberta? It makes no sense whatsoever,” said Mary Gorman, a coastal landowner from Merigomish, NS.
“This regulator seems willing to risk our Gulf’s global food supply, culture, recreation, property values, national parks and the most beautiful coastlines on this earth. But are they prepared to assume the responsibility of this risk? Who will be held accountable if this development proceeds and goes all wrong?” asked Gorman.
The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a semi-landlocked, inland sea and breeding area for over 2,000 marine species who spawn, nurse and migrate year around. Because the Gulf’s waters only exchange with the Atlantic once each year, and due to its counterclockwise currents, a spill could wash up on the coastlines of all five Atlantic provinces over the course of a year.
Held on September 11, 2012 in Charlottetown, calling on provincial, territorial and federal energy ministers to where provincial energy ministers to enact a moratorium
PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release
September 11, 2012
Coalition Walks in Silence For A Moratorium on Oil and Gas Development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Urge Energy Ministers to Protect Gulf’s Renewable Beauty and Bounty
CHARLOTTETOWN – Save Our Seas and Shores, a multi-provincial coalition of coastal landowners, fishermen, tourism, indigenous and environmental groups, are holding a quiet walk today to urge Canada’s Energy Ministers to call for a moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
“We are walking in silence to convey our grave concern about the profound damage offshore oil and gas development could do to our Gulf. We hope the energy ministers will take a moment to pause and reflect on the beauty, richness, diversity and renewable bounty our Gulf provides.” said Ellie Reddin, of Cornwall, PEI.
The Gulf of St. Lawrence is home to over 2,000 marine species, many of which are endangered. Six and a half times smaller than the Gulf of Mexico, it is a semi-landlocked inland sea with counter-clockwise currents. Because it only exchanges its waters with the Atlantic once a year and due to strong tides within the Gulf, any oil contamination could be widespread along the coastlines of NS, NB, PEI, QC and NL over the course of a year.
“It makes no sense whatsoever to jeopardize our valuable marine beauty and renewable resources to access non-renewable fossil fuels that should be left in the ground,” said Reddin.
The Coalition is concerned about ‘Old Harry’ and other leases recently issued by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) before adequate study of the potentially dire environmental and economic risk such reckless development could pose.
“Without widespread public concern and action, petroleum development in the deep waters and fishing grounds of the Gulf of St Lawrence will proceed, under stripped down environmental legislation that does not even require assessment of seismic surveys and exploratory wells! This is a huge risk to an ecosystem already heavily damaged by land based pollution, declining oxygen, rising temperatures and rapidly increasing acidity. Bear in mind that the Gulf of Mexico BP Macondo disaster was an exploratory well and years later, fish are now surfacing with horrible deformities.” said Dr. Irene Novaczek, a marine biologist and Director of the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI.
The Gulf’s multi-billion dollar fishery and tourism industries provide jobs for over 50,000 Canadians in five provinces and this revenue goes directly back into provincial economies – unlike oil revenues, which primarily profit domestic and foreign shareholders. The Coalition contends that the Gulf should be placed under moratorium because it is too fragile for any oil and gas development.
“Oil and gas companies say they will mitigate risk. But mitigation can only happen if enough science exists to determine how to mitigate. Because of the profound knowledge gaps on Gulf species (e.g. little is known about early life stages of marine organisms or habitat requirements of all life stages) it would be irresponsible and a betrayal of the public interest for our governments to proceed with this development” said Mary Gorman of Merigomish, NS.
“Offshore oil companies may be experts at extraction, but they are nowhere near experts at reducing destruction caused by seismic blasting, or eliminating the risks of exploratory and production well blowouts. Nor do they know how to clean up oil spills before damage occurs, particularly in our Gulf with its high winds and winter ice cover” said Gorman. The Coalition says, if energy ministers and political leaders are not convinced there should be a moratorium, they should look at it this way. If the oil companies are wrong, in twenty years the fish will be gone and the oil and gas will be gone. If we’re wrong, in twenty years, the fish will still be there and the oil and gas will still be there.