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Offshore drilling poses “huge implications for everyone”


Anyone who fishes in Atlantic waters should be “sitting up and taking notice of what’s happening in Nova Scotia’s offshore when it comes to oil and gas exploration,” according to an article in the Shelburne County Coast Guard newspaper.


Marilyn Keddy, Chair of the South Shore Chapter of the Council of Canadians and member of the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia, and John Davis, director of the Clean Action Ocean Committee (COAC) spoke at the SWNS Lobster Forum in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia earlier this month about BP’s offshore drilling.


The Coast Guards reports, “changes in federal legislation, two industrial accidents at offshore drilling sites within the last two years, and pending seismic activity near Georges Bank and the North Atlantic right whale critical habitat in Roseway Basin” are all reasons fishers should be concerned.


The Council of Canadians is supporting local groups’ efforts to raise awareness of the risks posed by offshore drilling and to have a full public inquiry into its risks. The Council’s online petition calling for BP Canada to stop drilling exploratory wells in the Scotian Basin and for changes to the federal government’s Bill C-69, which will give offshore petroleum boards more say, has more than 60,000 signatures.


“So, when someone says to you no one cares about this issue, it’s not true. People do care,” Keddy told the audience. “My hope is to be able to work closely with your organizations around eliminating the risks associated around offshore drilling. It’s too late to save the fishery after a blow out.”


Keddy said oil and gas exploration is being conducted on the Scotian Shelf “in conditions where there is no global precedence” in waters “twice as deep as in the Gulf of Mexico with tide and weather conditions far fiercer.”


“The lack of industry experience requires additional regulatory requirements, not vague and relaxed regulatory requirements,” Keddy said. “We do not think it is worth the risk to our sustainable fishery, coastal communities and climate. Are you willing to take that risk with your livelihood?”


According to the article, Davis brought up a number of issues, including three federal bills that “have huge implications for everyone in this room.” Bill C-22, which was passed in 2017, gives oil companies “the right to spray chemical dispersants into the water in the event of an oil spill and pretend what they are doing is cleaning up.”


Davis said, “They can do it on or near your fishing grounds. Dispersants increase toxicity of the oil spill and amplify the damage to lobster stocks and other species. All they are doing is driving the oil off the surface and down into the water column where it becomes more dangerous to lobster and the other living species,” he said. “Before Bill C-22 it was against the law by DFO regulations to put those chemicals in the water, it was against Coast Guard regulations, Transport Canada regulations, even against the Migratory Bird Act.”


The Offshore Alliance is a coalition of fisher, social justice and environmental organizations – including the Council of Canadians – communities and individuals who are deeply concerned about offshore drilling in Nova Scotia. The Alliance is calling for a moratorium on offshore drilling until a full federal-provincial public inquiry is conducted. The Alliance argues that although Nova Scotia created an independent panel on fracking onshore, it has never had a parallel study of oil exploration and drilling offshore where much more is at stake. The Alliance is asking municipalities to support the call for a moratorium and full public inquiry on the risks of offshore oil and gas development on the Scotian Shelf.


Read the full article.