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Save our Seas and Shores

Press Release
Monday, February 12, 2001


Save Our Seas and Shores, a coalition of fishermen, First Nations, environmentalists and tourism groups from NS, NB and PEI have demanded the resignation of NS Minister of Economic Development Gordon Balser.

They based their demand for his resignation on Balser’s written admission of bias regarding the upcoming Public Review of shoreline exploration and drilling in vital spawning, nursery and migratory areas on both sides of Cape Breton Island.

Specifically, the coalition referred to Mr. Balser’s own words in a letter he sent to one of its members, Mary Doyle of Mabou in which he stated: “I remain convinced that with a proper environmental regulatory climate, the fishery and the oil and gas industry can coexist. The Public Review in Cape Breton will enable us to establish what conditions must exist before such activities take place in the three licence areas offshore Cape Breton.” said Mr. Balser.

“Minister Balser remains convinced that the fishery and oil and gas industry can coexist in these sensitive areas. Clearly, he has already made up his mind. Why are we bothering to go through the pretense and expense of a public review if the provincial Minister responsible is incapable of approaching this review with an open mind?” said Mary Doyle.

“According to the Minister’s statement, this review is to determine how and when exploration can proceed, rather than IF exploration should proceed. This blatant bias towards the petroleum industry is unfair and unacceptable.” said Allister Marshall of Chapel Island First Nation.

“The Minister wasn’t convinced that fish and oil could coexist on Georges Bank. His party supported the moratorium off Georges Bank, one hundred miles offshore. Yet now he is convinced PRIOR to this public review that fish and oil can coexist in spawning, nursery and migratory areas along our shorelines. His predetermined outcome of this public review makes him a hypocrite, and makes this public review process a farce.” said Mary Gorman of Merigomish.

“Mr. Balser’s insistence of co-existence in these sensitive areas that provide 20,000 jobs in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence is an insult to the inshore fishing industry in Gulf Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick. All we had asked for is the same fair treatment for the inshore fishing industry in northern Nova Scotia that the Georges Bank fishing industry received. Mr. Balser’s inability to be neutral is another serious example of why an independent, ecological, regional public review is needed if our inshore fishery is to survive, not only for ourselves, but for future generations.” said Percy Hayne of Merigomish.

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SoSS, (902) 926-2128