The Blue Whale Campaign

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The Gulf of St Lawrence is the jewel of Atlantic Canada. It borders all five Eastern Canadian provinces, supports vast fisheries and holds an awesome diversity of life.

This jewel has been mistreated in the past. Historic overfishing has made this region home to numerous endangered species and because of this, the Gulf is a vulnerable, even fragile paradise. For the sake of the provinces, people and aquatic life that depend on it, the Gulf must be protected from dangers both old and new.

Inhabiting these waters is the blue whale, a critically endangered species. There were once thousands in the northwest Atlantic Ocean, but now it's believed there are fewer than 250...and recovery becomes less likely with each passing year.

As an endangered species, the blue whale is entitled to have its critical habitat protected by the federal government, but first the locations of this habitat must be identified. An action plan detailing the blue whale's habitat is supposed to be published by the end of 2014. However, representatives with the Canadian government have cast doubt on this deadline. It's far from a sure thing.

The blue whale population was first devastated by hunting, but now oil and gas operations threaten to hammer the final nail into its coffin. Oil and gas exploration in the Gulf is already underway, with seismic testing complete at sites like the Old Harry prospect off Newfoundland's southern shore. Exploratory drilling will soon follow. Also in the neighbourhood - the Energy East oil pipeline plans to carry Alberta's crude oil to New Brunswick, where it will be exported via the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf.

A catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf could spell the end of the blue whale, either by destroying its food stocks or poisoning individuals when they visit the surface for food or air. Even without such a disaster, oil and gas exploration would drastically increase seismic testing, a hazard capable of deafening whales; they can cause bleeding of the sensory organs and even death at close range.

The final dangers come with increased heavy ship traffic. Collisions between whales and large transport ships - oil tankers for example - remain the highest cause of whale mortality in Canadian waters. Many collisions go unreported as heavy vessels can rip through a whale without taking notice.

The Sierra Club of Canada and its affiliate Save Our Seas and Shore are concerned the recovery of the blue whale and other endangered species will be overlooked as oil and gas development moves forward in the Gulf of St Lawrence. For this reason we are launching our public awareness campaign to bring Gulf species into the discussion.

Our organizers:

Zack Metcalfe will lead the public awareness campaign. As an author, journalist and passionate environmentalist, he's well suited to write on behalf of endangered species. Whales and the open ocean hold a special fascination for Metcalfe; it was his initiative that lead to the blue whale playing a central role in our campaign.

"The blue whale is the largest animal ever to have existed," said Metcalfe. "You can judge the health of an ecosystem by the health of its largest animals, so if the blue whale vanishes, that doesn't bode well for the oceans. There are countless environmental, economic and ethical reasons for prohibiting oil and gas operations in the Gulf, but for me, no reason is more personal than this gentle giant."

A graduate of Dalhousie University's Master of Resource and Environmental Management program, Colin Jeffrey has had an interest in environmental issues from a young age. For the past two years Colin has worked to protect the Gulf as a volunteer with Save Our Seas and Shores - PEI Chapter.

"The more you know about our incredible Gulf of St Lawrence, the harder you will work to protect it," said Mr Jeffrey.

Eastern Canadian provinces are moving quickly to exploit fossil fuel deposits in the Gulf of St Lawrence. The Atlantic provinces’ offshore petroleum boards have the conflicting mandate of promoting fossil fuel development and assessing its environmental impacts. Few groups are treating the Gulf as a single ecosystem and fewer still are thinking beyond the short term economic benefits.

Endangered species like the blue whale need a voice in these decisions. Donate to our campaign and we will be that voice.

The Blue Whale Campaign’s most recent venture is the Name a Whale Challenge, where members of the public are invited to suggest a name for an Atlantic Canadian blue whale. Proceeds will be divided between the Blue Whale Campaign and the Mingan Island Cetacean Study, a pioneering blue whale research organization in the Gulf of St Lawrence. To learn more about the Northwest Atlantic Blue Whale, visit our blue whale page here.

St. Lawrence Coalition Releases Gulf 101 Report

June 10, 2014

Gulf 101 - Oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Facts, Myths, and Future Outlook is the first comprehensive look at the ecology, oceanography, economy, and implications of oil and gas for the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Four years in the making, the report details the uniqueness of the Gulf ecosystem, gaps in our current knowledge about the Gulf, flaws in the regulations and legal agreements regarding oil deposits in the Gulf, our inability to respond to and clean up an oil spill in the Gulf, and lack of social license for oil and gas in the Gulf.

The report was accompanied by a region-wide call for a moratorium on oil and gas in the Gulf, which received massive media attention. 

Please go here to TAKE ACTION and protect the Gulf!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence!

Gulf Garland Video and Story Contest Launched!

 

November 11, 2013

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a vital Canadian ecosystem. Unfortunately the fate of the Gulf, which is bounded by five of Canada’s ten provinces, now lies with the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, which could approve drilling as soon as next year.

Oil and gas threatens marine life in the Gulf – endangered species like the blue whale and leatherback turtles – as well as thousands of other species!  The vibrant Gulf ecosystem also supports tens of thousands of jobs in the fishing and tourism industries.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board is still considering approving drilling in spite of strong opposition from indigenous communities and citizens whose livelihoods and quality of life rely on a healthy, oil-free gulf.To make the case for how special the Gulf is, we are collecting stories and videos of people who have experience the Gulf and want to see it protected! 

 

Please go here to check out our project website and submit your video or story:

www.gulfgarland.org


Don’t know what to say ? Here are some questions that might get your creative juices flowing: Why do I love the Gulf of St. Lawrence? What is my favourite place in the Gulf? What is my favourite memory? What is my biggest fear if oil and gas is allowed to go ahead?

 

Contact Gretchen at 902-444-3113 or gulfgarland@gmail.com if you want more info or need help submitting your story or video!

 

We are so grateful for the support of the Patagonia Environmental Grants Program for helping us create the Gulf Garland!

 

 

Petition to Protect PEI from Oil and Gas Development in the Gulf!
 

We want your concerns about the Gulf of St. Lawrecce to be heard in the PEI legislature!

 

This January, the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition on Prince Edward Island launched a petition to support a moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

 

We want as many signatures as possible!

 

Only "hard copy" signatures (i.e. not online petitions) are accepted, so please take some time to download the petition, gather signatures from your friends and neighbours. Maybe leave a copy at your local library or convenience store ....

 

Once you have gathered your signatures, please mail your petiton before April 2nd to:

Save Our Seas and Shores-PEI Chapter, VRC, 81 Prince St., Charlottetown, PE C1A 4R3.

 

Once we have gathered all the signatures, the petition and your concerns will be formally entered into the PEI legislature!

Want to give folks more information or spread the word further while gathering signatures? Please download the brochure below and print it!

 

 


Jason Priestley Speaks Out for the Gulf!

Click here to Take Action to Protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from Oil and Gas

 
Jason Priestley speaks out for the environment
 

CELEBRATION OF OCEANS DAY TO PROTECT GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE

Merigomish, NS – Save Our Seas and Shores, Sierra Club Atlantic, and the Wandering Menstrual Singers are calling on friends and family to join them in a spirited sing along to acknowledge, respect and honour Canada’s Oceans and especially, the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“We will be gathering on the shores of Malignant Cove Beach (between Antigonish and New Glasgow) this Thursday June 7thbetween 5:30-6:30 pm to celebrate the beauty, richness and diversity of the Gulf and the need for it to be protected for future generations,” says Mary Gorman of Merigomish. " We are hoping to raise awareness of the importance of keeping our oceans healthy. Every second breath we take as humans, is enabled by oxygen created by our oceans."

"We feel immensely fortunate to live by the inspiration of the sea", says Karen Fish, a singer with the Antigonish group.

"People tend to look at our oceans as vast and never ending.... Read more »

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Coalition Criticizes Minister Oliver’s ‘Waffling’ on Independent Safety Regulators for Canada’s Offshore

For Immediate Release: March 13, 2012

A Coalition of fishermen, First Nations, environmentalists and coastal landowners are rallying against Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s recent ‘waffling’ on the need for a separate, independent safety regulator for NL’s offshore petroleum industry. The coalition is responding to recent comments made in NL by Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver who stated he is questioning whether an independent safety regulator is needed.

“Retired Judge Robert Wells’s inquiry into the deaths of 17 offshore workers in the 2009 Cougar helicopter crash recommended a separate, independent safety regulator for NL’s offshore industry.  What was the point of this Inquiry if the federal government is going to ignore Justice Wells’ vital recommendations?” says Gretchen Fitzgerald, executive director of Sierra Club - Atlantic Chapter.
... Read more »

Coalition Criticizes Minister Oliver’s ‘Waffling’ on Independent Safety Regulators for Canada’s Offshore

For Immediate Release: March 13, 2012

A Coalition of fishermen, First Nations, environmentalists and coastal landowners are rallying against Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s recent ‘waffling’ on the need for a separate, independent safety regulator for NL’s offshore petroleum industry. The coalition is responding to recent comments made in NL by Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver who stated he is questioning whether an independent safety regulator is needed.

“Retired Judge Robert Wells’s inquiry into the deaths of 17 offshore workers in the 2009 Cougar helicopter crash recommended a separate, independent safety regulator for NL’s offshore industry.  What was the point of this Inquiry if the federal government is going to ignore Justice Wells’ vital recommendations?” says Gretchen Fitzgerald, executive director of Sierra Club - Atlantic Chapter.
... Read more »

FEDERAL GAME OF “HOT POTATO” LEAVES GULF OPEN TO OIL AND GAS DISASTER

For immediate release: August 16, 2011

Halifax, NS – Yesterday’s letter from Environment Minister Peter Kent to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) shows lack of leadership to protect an ecosystem shared by half of Canada’s ten provinces according to Sierra Club Canada – Atlantic Canada Chapter and the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition.

“At least the offshore board knew they were out of their depth when it came to measuring the impacts of oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” stated Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director of Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, “They asked for the federal government to take the lead. What they got in response from the Minister and his department was the equivalent of a regulatory game of hot potato. We cannot play games when so much is at stake.”... Read more »

Tell Environment Minister Peter Kent to Get to Work to Protect the Gulf!

2011-07-26
Action Deadline: 
Thu, 2011-09-15 23:00

In June, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board cried “uncle” and asked for the federal Environment Minister to conduct an environmental assessment of the impacts of exploratory drilling at a site called Old Harry located tens of kilometres from the coast of Newfoundland, Cape Breton, PEI and the Magdelen Islands.

Without this intervention, exploratory drilling could have proceeded as soon as next year.

In its letter to federal Environment Minister Peter Kent, the C-NLOPB stated that they had never received as many letters of concern about an offshore oil project before: for all those who wrote in - it worked! Now we just have to keep it up!

We need your help to convince federal Environment Minister Peter Kent to establish a valid environmental assessment to truly determine the risks of offshore oil development to the Gulf. A spill one tenth of the size of the BP oil spill would affect the coastlines of all five provinces around the Gulf.

What do we want you to do?

 


Speak Up for the Gulf!

Call Environment Minister Kent and ask for a full joint review panel environmental assessment for oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Tell him and his staff that you don’t think we can risk this precious ecosystem and that we need everyone around the Gulf engaged in protecting it.

Honourable Peter Kent's telephone number: 1-819-997-1441

You can also write a letter or email.

Here is a sample letter:

The Honourable Peter Kent
Minister of the Environment
Les Terrasses de la Chaudière
10 Wellington Street, 28th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0H3

E-mail: Minister@ec.gc.ca... Read more »

   

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