Mi'kmaq, fishermen condemn new U.S. oil tests

SHUNPIKING, September, 2000 / Volume 5, Number 36

AMHERST, NS -- The Atlantic Policy Congress (APC) of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat Inc. and the Maritime Fishermen's Union (MFU) have jointly denounced the plan of Hunt Oil, Texas, to perform seismic testing this fall in the waters of Sydney Bight, specifically in the waters off Port Morien to Cape Smokey, without first completing an extensive environmental assessment (see map, page 5).

Last December, the APC Chiefs demanded that two similar exploration surveys be stopped in the Port Hood to Cheticamp area, where a lease is held by Corridor Resources. Now, the Canada/Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum board has chosen to by-pass the environmental assessment process regarding oil and gas exploration, and plans to issue these permits.

"These permits will have major impacts on the eco-systems in those areas," said Chief Lawrence Paul, APC co-chair, "and may damage or destroy many of the fish stocks that are there."

"We are concerned about the lack of both the federal and provincial government regulations to protect these inshore areas," said Chief Peter Barlow, APC co-chair.

"The precedent they are setting by issuing permits without conducting environmental assessments endanger the marine life and the communities reliant on those resources."

Jeff Brownstein is president of Local 6, Maritime Fishermen's Union. He said, "the commercial fishery in Sydney Bight remains the backbone of the economy of coastal Cape Breton. Our groundfish stocks show signs of rebuilding, our crab stocks are booming and we have put into place conservation measures to improve our lobster fishery by doubling egg production. It is absolutely criminal to consider seismic exploration which could kill shellfish and fish eggs and larvae as well as disrupt their migration patterns."

The Atlantic Chiefs and the MFU are demanding that Herb Dahliwal, DFO minister, put a halt to the issuance of these permits and live up to his responsibilities laid out in the legislation regarding protecting the habitat.



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