Skip to content

Coastal tour companies stage ‘peaceful paddling’ flotilla against offshore drilling

Press release

Tourism industry relies on pristine beaches, oil-free shores, positive perception of Nova Scotia’s coasts

Mahone Bay and Lower Prospect, Nova Scotia – More than 50 people set out from Mahone Bay and Lower Prospect today to defend their communities, the lobster fishery, and the coastally-dependent tourism industry from the risks of offshore drilling.

Today’s paddlers are adding their voices to the growing call for a moratorium on offshore drilling and inquiry into decision-making about offshore resources.

The first photo is from the East Coast Outfitters flotilla in Lower Prospect (Photo by Chelsea Fougere). The second photo is from the Mahone Bay flotilla (Photo by the Council of Canadians).

The flotillas are organized by five local kayaking outfitters – Cape LaHave Adventures (Bells Cove), Pleasant Paddling (Blue Rocks), East Coast Outfitters (Lower Prospect), and Lunenburg Paddling Adventours – as well as the Council of Canadians and the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia (CPONS).

“An oil spill would be devastating to the environment and would affect so many industries, especially in Southwestern Nova Scotia, where I’m from,” says Matt DeLong, lead guide and coach from Candlebox Kayaking in Shelburne, and one of the flotilla’s leaders. “As a society we need to make tangible moves away from non-renewable forms of energy.”

“As guides and paddlers, we get to experience Nova Scotia’s coastal ecosystem on a daily basis. It’s difficult to capture the value of our coastline in numbers, be it tourism revenue or fisheries income,” says Cape Lahave Adventures owner Sarah Hrdlicka. “Our relationship with the Atlantic is at the foundation of our local communities and maritime ways of living. Our quality of life is what is being placed at risk."

Nova Scotia is defined by our coastline and sea. As guides, we know a small part intimately and couldn’t imagine our area being damaged – let alone what would happen if there was an oil spill,” says Pleasant Paddling owner Karl Marsters, from Blue Rocks. “We need to protect what makes our province special.”

The Government of Nova Scotia has been promoting tourism as a growth industry for several years, and is trying to grow the tourism sector to $4 billion annually by 2024. East Coast Outfitters, a kayak company in Lower Prospect that hosted a simultaneous flotilla at their home base, finds this goal contradictory.

“During and after BP’s spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 tourism operators were hurt even if they weren’t directly hit by oil – the perception of oiled shores ruined businesses. One mishap, or the perception of a mishap, could be the end of the industry,” says Adam Zita, East Coast Outfitters’ guide and Manager. “We feel overlooked, and the whole tourism industry and its growth is being overlooked in favour of drilling.”

This flotilla is part of a series of events hosted by CPONS and the Council of Canadians. In response to the Maritimes Energy Association’s Core conference, which is heavily sponsored by BP and other oil industry players that claims to be ‘setting the stage’ for the energy future, CPONS and the Council of Canadians are working hard to make sure that offshore drilling is part of the past, not part of the future.