Online edition of Shunpiking
Thursday, Jan 01, 2004
Seismic Vibes

Nova Scotia premier sneaks out back door to avoid looking at science

Gretchen Fitzgerald, maarine co-ordinator, Ecology Action Centre

(HALIFAX, December 5, 2003) -- Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm snuck out the back door of a hotel in Charlottetown today to avoid looking at scientific evidence that seismic blasting in the Southern Gulf will damage the fishery. A delegation of fishermen and conservationists went to the meeting of Canadian Premiers in PEI to give Premier Hamm their evidence in person. Hamm is on the record stating he will stop the testing if there is science showing that seismic will damage the fishery.

The delegation cheered when Premiers Pat Binns and Jean Charest left the hotel. The PEI and Quebec governments have stated that they think oil and gas development should not proceed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence without further proof that the ecosystem will not be impacted.

"I traveled from Pictou to show the Premier this evidence," said Greg Egilsson of the Gulf-Nova Scotia Herring Federation, who represents 430 licensed herring fishermen in the Nova Scotia Gulf region, "And now the Premier won't even take it out of my hands."

"We are extremely frustrated with Hamm's avoidance tactics," said Rory McLellan of the PEI Fisherman's Association, "Our Premier, Pat Binns, has listened to scientific evidence and decided that seismic is not right for the Gulf. Why won't the Nova Scotian Premier do the same?"

"The Premier needs to take the blinders from his eyes," says Mark Butler of the Ecology Action Centre, "He has said he will look at the science. Well, from DFO scientists to university researchers to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board's own Science Working Group, every bit of science I know says no oil and gas in the Gulf. I would like to know what, if any, scientific evidence the Premier is looking at?"

A Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist stated today that herring and cod larvae would be killed or damaged within a 2 metre radius of seismic airguns. Herring larvae tend to be concentrated in the test area right now and cod populations in the southern Gulf are listed as being of "special concern" by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

"When you consider the fact that the CNSOPB has hidden this evidence from our leaders, you would think they would be happy to have it brought to their attention," says Emily McMillan of the Sierra Club of Canada. "After today, I guess all we can do is plead with the Premier: when can we meet?"

So far, Hamm has ignored requests for a meeting with opponents of a permit, granted on November 27th by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB), to allow seismic blasting in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Seismic testing is slated to begin next week.

For more information, contact: Greg Egilsson, Gulf-Nova Scotia Herring Federation (902) 485-1729 or (902)396-7068

Rory McLellan, P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, (902) 566-4050

Mark Butler, Ecology Action Centre, (902) 429-2202 or (902) 446-4305

Emily McMillan, Sierra Club, (902)444-3113 or (902) 431-5772