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Scott McCormack

Tourism and offshore drilling don’t mix – Scott McCormack

Scott McCormack, Cape LaHave Adventures

Dublin Shore, Nova Scotia

This interview is part of the Faces of Offshore Resistance project highlighting a number of community activists fighting to protect their homes, coastal communities, fisheries, tourism, and cultural history from the harms of offshore drilling. All photo credit goes to Robert Van Waarden.

Scott McCormack: I’m a sea kayak guide and owner/operation of Cape LaHave adventures in Dublin Shore Nova Scotia. I’ve been kayaking and canoeing since I was 8 or 9 years old. I was guiding canoe trips when I was a teenager and then in my early 20s I got into sea kayak guiding.

We moved here 5 years ago. I am from Halifax but I spent every summer of my life on the South Shore sailing working as an sailing instructor. We had a cottage so I spent a lot of time down here, and I love the coastline. We were working all over the place from Antarctica and BC as kayak guides. I guided here and did a long tour that started in Prospect and ended here in the islands.  I just fell in love and we started the company.

Our tours are 1-2 people up to big school groups. Families on vacation. Maybe in a month we see 1000 or 2000 guests coming through for tours, and more for rentals.

Robert Van Waarden: What brought you here?

SMC: The beauty of the coasts, the islands, its sheltered and protected. There’s huge diversity – surf and swells when you get into the outside, but also sheltered coves and white sand beaches. It’s a great place to take beginners while still being on the ocean. We get big open views in the safety of the islands.

RVW: When you think of offshore drilling how does that make you feel?

SMC: Weary. Looking at the track records of BP and some of the other companies, there have been oil spills and there is a potential that could happen here. That would be really detrimental to the wildlife which is part of the ecosystem clearly but also part of the tours. We see seals playing and porpoises and it would be catastrophic if there was an oil spill. It’s worrisome.

RVW: In the event of a spill what would happen here?

SMC: It can’t be good for the fishing industry or the tourism that we do. In my lifetime I’ve seen osprey, eagles, mackerel in the summer. That’s when the seals and the porpoises are there. Nature’s doing it’s thing and I’m sure it would certainly be toxic to all of that.

People fish for halibut in late spring and early summer. People come here for the beautiful beaches. In the summer the tourism economy is key for people living here. A huge percentage of the population is working directly with the ocean. If there’s a spill they’re not going to come here, they’re going to go somewhere else.

RVW: If you had a message to tell the government of Nova Scotia what would it be?

SMC: More consultation of different voices about whether it’s really worth doing this. It seems like the top down trickle down economics is not effective for the masses. Who does it benefit? And is it worth it? It is the commons that we’re dealing with here. it’s the ocean, which is everybody’s. I think we need to be really careful – if there’s exploitation that it’s done sustainably.

I don’t have all the answers but offshore drilling is not sustainable.

It seems like a lot of decisions are made based purely on economics and money, and I would urge the province or the decision makers to consider all the livelihood of everyone when they’re making decisions. Where is the money going? How is it going to help our society?

RVW: When you talk to your peers about this issue whats the response?

SMC: Definitely against the drilling. You see these signs up everywhere, everybody has them. I haven’t heard of anyone around here being offered jobs in the offshore. I don’t know anybody that’s for it around here. I’m sure there are some but I don’t know them. I’ve lived here 5 years and you get to know people running a business.

Clients who come may work for the oil industry in one form or another and they come and spend their money here which we welcome. The argument I hear from some folks is that we need to get our oil from somewhere but I don’t know if this is worth the risk.