Coexistence
des
industries de
la pêche et
du pétrole

En tant que
pêcheur côtier
pendant presque
30 ans, l’auteur
déclare que les
pêcheurs côtiers
sont très inquiets
concernant la
nature et le
résultat du
développement
et des effets de
l’exploration
pétrolière dans
les eaux du sud
du Golfe
Saint-Laurent. 

On cite plusieurs
exemples
d’explorations
mises en oeuvre
sans étude
préalable. Cet
article aborde: le
rythme accéléré
de remise de
permis
d’exploration
pétrolière le long
de la côte est;
la pollution
industrielle qui
affecte les
pêcheurs; la Loi
du Canada sur
les océans, et, la
bataille continuelle
contre
l’exploration
pérolière dans les
zones sensibles.

"Où est la
"précaution" dans
le développement
pétrolier à grande
échelle sans étude
adéquate?"

 

 

 

== Hibernia ==

(photo: Hibernia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sidenote from:
Save Our Seas
& Shores
 

The Save Our
Seas and Shores
Coalition (SOS),
made up of
fishers, aboriginals
& environment-
alists from NS,
NB and PEI, is
encouraged by
Ministers Ralph
Goodale and
Gordon Balser,
respectively the
federal & provincial
ministers of
natural resources,
for announcing a
joint public review
of the potential oil
& gas exploration
and development
currently permitted
under the Canada-
Nova Scotia Off-
shore Petroleum
Board (CNSOPB).

However, on
October 24/00,
they demanded
that the contro-
versial shoreline
permits on both
sides of Cape
Breton first be
rescinded; and the
public review panel
be impartial & not 
exclusively
controlled by the
petroleum board.

The coalition noted
that since the
CNSOPB is
becoming a federal
authority under the
CEAA, the review
would have to be
conducted by a
panel, not a lone
commissioner,
with its member-
ship appointed by
the federal
Minister of
Environment, in
conjunction with
the province. 
"The proponent will
have to prepare an
environmental
impact assess-
ment, which will
then form the
basis of public
comment and
other expert resp-
onse. There is no
way such a review
can be completed
within 9 months.
Any adequate
public review is not
limited by arbitrary
time limits..."  said
Elizabeth May.

SOS does not
consider it
appropriate that
the petroleum
board has exclus-
ive control over
commissioners,
time frames or
terms of reference.
Stakeholders want
input in all these
areas.

 

Coexistence of the Fishery
& Petroleum Industries


Percy J. Hayne
President, Gulf NS Fleet Planning Board
& Multi-species Inshore Fisherman
October, 2000


here has been much said about coexistence of the fishery and the petroleum industry.  In the spring, I attended a seismic workshop put on by the petroleum industry and various government departments in Mabou, Cape Breton. 

=======   Rowan Gorilla II  =======


(photo: Sable Project site)

The fishing representative flown in from the Shetland Islands who spoke at this workshop informed us that the Shetland Island’s petroleum development is one hundred miles offshore. He confirmed that the petroleum industry did not live up to their assurances and said there are areas fishermen will fight tooth and nail to protect. He urged us to organize as quickly as possible. Graphs at this workshop showing seismic activity and catch rates in the Gulf in the seventies, revealed substantive drops in fish catches both times five years after seismic blasting, when juvenile fish would have been maturing.

There has been reference made to Port au Port inshore exploration in Nfld. This production, which only began early this year is not proof of long term co-existence. It is another serious example of exploration proceeding without study. Inshore fishers are deeply concerned about the nature and outcome of this development. We are also concerned that the extensive seismic which took place near Hibernia subsequent to the groundfish moratorium may have thrown migrating cod off course so that cod ended up spawning in areas not suited for egg maturity. This could explain why year class supplies of cod have vanished subsequent to the moratorium, leaving scientists scratching their heads. At a workshop I attended at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography last March, a scientist from DFO in Newfoundland informed me they have begun conducting studies on the long term impacts of exploration on species and have found deformed fish gills in test areas miles from the Hibernia site. It will take up to twenty years for this science to be concluded. Does this make our fishery an experiment?

There has also been reference made to Poole Bay in the UK as being an example of inshore exploration. Due to such reckless inshore exploration in the UK, in November/99, a major court victory was won by environmental groups against the UK government that determined no petroleum permits could be issued within two hundred miles of the shoreline before identifying and protecting sensitive areas first.

Major fishing organizations in NS, NB and PEI have yet to convince our provincial and federal governments to agree to an impartial review panel to study the effects of petroleum exploration in the southern Gulf. The Georges Bank Review Panel established a 12 year moratorium one hundred miles offshore. If it’s not safe one hundred miles offshore, why is it safe along our shorelines? If it’s so safe, why are they afraid of independent study?

Saipem7000 & a Sailboat in Halifax, NS

Saipem7000 & sailboat -Halifax
(photo: Sable Project site)

Look at the accelerated rate at which petroleum exploration permits have been issued on the east coast. Millions of acres of seabeds approved for development (Hibernia, White Rose, Cohasset-Panuke, Sable and Laurentien Sands) without environmental study, with the exception of Georges Bank and the Gully (around the Sable project). Interesting that the only two areas studied in our region have been deemed sensitive and not worth the risk. If environmentally sensitive areas had been identified and protected PRIOR to permits being issued, how many more of these developments should not have proceeded? Time will tell as marine life suffers the ongoing assault of seismic blasting, ‘produced’ (contaminated) waters, ballast waters, and hundreds of chemicals involved in drilling and production. Why have these areas not been studied? In the absence of scientific scrutiny, is it coincidence that Dalhousie University for example, has recently received a major donation from the petroleum industry to establish the Atlantic Canada Petroleum Institute?

The prevailing mentality within the petroleum industry seems to suggest that exploration and development should proceed because there is insufficient evidence to support the view that these species are severely impacted . While these sentiments mirror the inaction by provincial and federal governments, they all have it backwards.

In the early ‘90's, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity determined that an ecosystem and precautionary approach must be taken to protect global marine ecosystems under siege for the past fifty years. This was followed up by the establishment of Canada’s Oceans Act which states that a precautionary and ecosystem approach must be taken if scientific evidence is uncertain or does not prove the harmlessness of industrial development on the marine ecosystem. Where is the precaution in massive petroleum development without adequate study? Aren’t our governments violating Canada’s Oceans Act by allowing exploration to proceed without precaution?

Canada’s Fisheries Act states that the Minister of Fisheries has a responsibility to protect fish habitat, a responsibility thus far ignored by Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal and his predecessor, David Anderson. DFO is violating the Fisheries Act by allowing exploration and drilling to proceed without ensuring it is not a threat to marine habitat, such as groundfish stocks still under moratorium. Scientific studies done elsewhere suggest seismic blasting kills larvae and juveniles and disrupts migratory paths of adult groundfish. A Barents Sea study shows groundfish catch rates dropping by 65% with fish not returning after the blasting stopped.


(photo: Adbusters)

In Nova Scotia, we are fighting shoreline petroleum permits on both sides of Cape Breton Island in the midst of spawning, nursery and migratory areas for lobster, herring, snowcrab, mackerel tuna, atlantic salmon and recovering groundfish species and home to whales and dolphins. Inshore groundfishers have adhered to a precautionary approach for almost ten years now in an attempt to rebuild stocks decimated in the late ‘80's by the subsidized expansion of mid and offshore corporate dragger fleets.

Last March, the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (FRCC), an independent advisory board set up after the groundfishery collapsed, recommended to Minister Dhaliwal that petroleum exploration be halted in the Gulf of St. Lawrence ‘because of its fragility as a semi-confined, highly productive environment and the numerous people dependent on these ecosystems, until proper study is conducted’. The FRCC’s public meetings last winter showed graphs revealing the few remaining areas where groundfish stocks are rebounding in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the exact area of Corridor Resources’ and Hunt Oil’s proposed blasting.

Inshore fishers in the Gulf of St. Lawrence have been co-existing with industrial pollution for decades. Pollution such as pulp mill effluent, pesticides, and persistent organic pollutants that has the Globe and Mail printing that east coast lobsters have elevated levels of dioxins and furans. Who defines co-existence? How is the fishery supposed to co-exist if the petroleum industry is allowed to take over inshore seabeds and development is allowed to proceed in spawning, nursery and migratory areas? We suffer from selective law enforcement in this country. DFO conducts itself as if conservation requirements start and stop with excessive regulation of the inshore fishery. Industrial pollution and bio-accumulative toxins that impede species’ ability to reproduce are bypassed in DFO’s conservation agenda.

Since the Marshall decision, our fight against petroleum exploration in sensitive areas has been endorsed by the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs. If DFO expect native and non-native fishers to comply with the conservation laws of this country, it would help if our provincial and federal governments would practice what they preach and instruct their Cabinets and unelected energy boards to obey and enforce Canada’s Fisheries and Oceans’ laws. This might be a first step to regaining credibility with inshore fishers and with all Canadians who care about the future of marine life.

Some of the leases in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

(Click on map for larger view)


Inshore fishers in the southern Gulf have requested a full independent environmental assessment, an independent social, economic study and an independent review panel for inshore exploration surrounding Cape Breton Island such as that commissioned for Georges Bank. In the worse case scenario, if the oil and gas companies are wrong, in twenty years, the oil and gas will be gone and the fish will be gone. In the same worse case scenario, if fishermen, environmentalists and concerned citizens are wrong by exercising a precautionary approach, in twenty years, the oil and gas will still be there. Hopefully by then, sensitive areas will be identified and the fish protected for our children and our children’s children.