A conservation group plans to protest oil and gas developments in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in September, at the same time federal, provincial and territorial ministers of energy and mines are meeting in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
The Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition will be holding what it calls a “quiet walk” to demonstrate the respect and awe Eastern Canadians have for the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The protest is scheduled to begin 11:30 a.m. at Confederation Landing Park Gazebo and proceed on Water Street between Peake’s Quay and the Delta Prince Edward Hotel in Charlottetown.
The coalition is also calling on provincial leaders around the Gulf to break their silence by declaring moratoriums on oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities in the Gulf, including drilling and seismic surveys.
Two companies, Corridor and Ptarmigan, are in the final stages of approval, from the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) to conduct exploratory drilling and seismic surveys between Newfoundland and the Magdalen Islands.
The coalition said in a news release it has written to the provincial ministers requesting that they discuss this matter during their upcoming meeting and support an immediate moratorium on drilling and exploration in the Gulf.
On Aug. 22, the C-NLOPB issued a "call for nominations" for Newfoundland's section of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The coalition said oil companies have until Oct. 15 to express their interest in exploring and exploiting parcels of the Gulf, prior to the C-NLOPB conducting its promised Western Newfoundland Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to determine if it is appropriate to proceed with oil and gas development in Newfoundland’s Gulf waters.
“The Gulf is six and a half times smaller than the Gulf of Mexico, and is a semi-enclosed body of water that completely exchanges its water with the Atlantic Ocean only once a year. Because of its circular, counter-clockwise currents, any oil and gas contamination would be widespread along the Gulf coastlines of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador over the course of a year,” the coalition’s prepared statement reads. “The effects of a spill on the multi-million dollar tourism and fisheries industries would be catastrophic.”
The coalition also notes that scientists describe the Gulf as the most productive marine region in Canada and it is “also a fragile ecosystem, home to many endangered and threatened species, including blue whales, leatherback turtles and cod. “
The Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition describes itself as a multi-provincial coalition of fishing, tourism, indigenous and environmental groups and coastal landowners working to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas development.