Mixing oil and tourism

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My letter addresses the controversial topic of proposed oil exploration in the fishing villages (Sally’s Cove/St. Paul’s/Trout River) next to Gros Morne National Park.

These are fundamental fishing communities on the west coast of Newfoundland and are part of a region where cultural tourism is taking place during the short summer months.

Having been an enthusiastic tourist myself from Ontario to St. John’s and Gros Morne National Park in the recent past, I was very disappointed to learn that hydraulic fracturing is planned as the method of extracting oil in these fishing communities just outside a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hydraulic fracturing is a relatively new method of extracting oil, via stimulation or underground explosions known as “fracking.”

Indeed, it is really new in cases associated to onshore to offshore exploration.

Researchers in the United States have identified and associated serious health problems with hydraulic fracturing.

The most commonly reported are: contamination of surface water, threats to fisheries and wildlife, toxic spills at drilling sites as well as radioactive waste. (You really want this close to a national park?)

Documented independent reports and studies in the field of oil exploration, especially via hydraulic fracturing, leads me to believe that this will be a major problem for the fisheries in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and will undoubtedly have a direct effect on the viability of the fishing stock due to seismic activity and drilling, let alone the health risks to the community.

Many wells

The company involved, Shoal Point Energy Ltd., has already presented its plan for oil exploration in October and November past, to the communities of Rocky Harbour and Cow Head.

Based on company’s reports, their plan is to have, at full production phase, one well per 10 kilometres on the west coast of Newfoundland, from Parson’s Pond to Lark Harbour in the Bay of Island. Indeed, one well for each 10 kilometres of the coastline!

Perhaps some of us are missing the point here, but the combination of flares burning gas along the highways next to Gros Morne, with the high probability of health problems and contaminated water for visiting tourists, in addition to negative ads about “fracking in Gros Morne” on YouTube, does not sound like an effective marketing strategy for the tourism industry.

Personally, I am not sure I want to have a family vacation in Newfoundland if this is happening.

Damaging tourism

If this occurs or is seriously considered, I suggest it will have a serious, negative impact on the tourism industry and

on the image Newfoundland and Labrador puts forth internationally in advertising Gros Morne as a special place.

In this instance, it appears that the two notions of oil exploration and tourism cannot co-exist.

Donald McRae writes from Toronto.

Organizations: UNESCO, Shoal Point Energy

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Gros Morne National Park, St. Paul Trout River Ontario United States Rocky Harbour Cow Head Lark Harbour Bay of Island Toronto

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Recent comments

  • Jay
    February 13, 2013 - 08:01

    Eli, If you'd bother to read any of my posts, you'll note that I haven't mentioned fraccing. So if you want to pick a fight with somebody on that issue, do it with somebody else. My point is that we are capable of making our own decisions, and we don't have to make these decisiopns based upon threats from outsiders. Learn to read!

    • Eli
      February 13, 2013 - 19:02

      Whether or not the writer used the word, fracking is what he's talking about. And I didn't see any kind of threat, that's in your mind. Why do you dump on somebody regardless where they're from for commenting on an issue we locals are too frikkin' stund to see. Right under our noses! Get real b'y.

  • Get real
    February 12, 2013 - 13:09

    A big kufuffle about nothing. The biggest tourist attraction in Sallys Cove is a chip truck. Everyone else just drives on by. The proposed project would have zero impact on it - except maybe to sell a few more plates of fries.

  • Jay
    February 12, 2013 - 07:08

    Anybody who thinks tourism will replace our resource based industries with respect to wealth generation is badly misinformed. Please look at the numbers. While he's entitled to his opinion, we no longer have to bow our heads in deference when a mainlander speaks. I'm certainly not going to die of fright because an outside individual, who probably wouldn't come here anyway, threatens to take his business elsewhere becaause of how we choose to do business in our own province.

    • david
      February 12, 2013 - 11:26

      Aunt Lizzie: Congratulations on your trivia 'knowledge'....but I'm pretty sure there were very few people of intelligence who mistook the gist of my post. If there are, then we really are in much worse shape than even I thought. BTW, other than symantics or grammar, did anything else in there tweak your interest or catch your attention? No? John Smith: ....nah.

    • Eli
      February 12, 2013 - 15:18

      Jay, you and Get Real want to get your heads together and gety 'em examined at the same time. Your opinions are not only ignorant but they stink! Jeez, I can't believe somebody could be that stupid.

    • Jay
      February 13, 2013 - 07:13

      Eli, And your post, which includes only insults and nothing of substance, is worth reading? Give me a break.

    • Eli
      February 13, 2013 - 07:48

      Jay, you wouldn't know fracking if your momma gave it to you for breakfast. Suffice to say it's bad news but you'd have trouble digesting that. P.S: you shouldn't be even reading this Jay especially when the truth hurts so much.

  • Grace
    February 11, 2013 - 18:42

    I agree with Don. Tourism can be a long term sustainable industry, whereas oil is a short term non renewable resource. Most of the profits would go to the company, and the negative impacts would be shouldered by the people of the province. Fracking can cause big trouble. Let's keep it out of Newfoundland.

    February 11, 2013 - 16:18

    Thank you for your interest and concern for the environmental integrity of one of this country's most recognized and valuable national parks. Please ignore neanderthals who not only reject your opinion, but - as a non-Newfoundlander - your right to have one in the first place. While this province and its people can take great pride in its unique geographical, historical and cultural resources, we still have a lot to learn about respecting the environment. From the illegal dumping of garbage to the storage of tailings in pristine lakes, it is all too often a case of not appreciating what we have until it is gone. Sometime ago, government was forced to backtrack on a plan to run a huge new transmission line down the centre of the Gros Morne National Park. Fortunately Parks resistance and public opinion across Canada forced its relocation outside the park. Fracking is, in and of itself, a major environmental concern that requires far more scrutiny before it becomes accepted industry practice. Irrespective the outcome of that debate, it clearly has no place within, or adjacent to, an internationally recognized natural historic preserve such as Gros Morne. Hopefully more Canadians, and Newfoundlanders, will take the time to echo the sentiments contained in your letter.

  • Jay
    February 11, 2013 - 14:52

    I have to laugh at these people who threaten to stay away if we don't adhere to their lifestyles and beliefs. Despite the rantings of various Ministers of Tourism and the mayor of St. John's, this industry is not the major contributor to our economy that you might think.

  • david
    February 11, 2013 - 09:00

    We already "mix " oil and tourism, Donald.....what do you think pays for all those TV ads? No oil = no money = no tourism ads = no tourism. And BTW, thanks for your "Toronto" insights on oil and gas (!!) but we can take care of our own issues...we don't advise you on how to run the Maple Leafs.