Take Action RIGHT NOW to protect the Laurentian Channel and the Gulf of St. Lawrence!
Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced last week that 80% of a new so-called marine protected area (MPA) would be open to oil and gas development.
We have just days to change his mind.
The area in question is the Laurentian Channel, the southeast entryway to the Gulf of St. Lawrence – and a key feeding and migratory pathway for whales - including the mighty blue whale - and the endangered leatherback turtle.
The region is very important to skates and sharks, too. The area is one of the only known mating grounds for porbeagle sharks, a species designated endangered by the COSEWIC, and habitat for basking sharks, high numbers of smooth skates, and black dogfish.
It’s home to high densities and diversity of deep-sea corals, including high concentrations of a fragile type of coral known as a sea pen.
The response from Sierra Club and other environmental groups has been rapid and unanimous: no oil and gas in our marine protected areas. Meanwhile, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers Vice President Paul Barnes, was quick to comment, “that the whole area still holds some promise” for oil and gas.
The announcement calls into question the government’s environmental record – not to mention its commitment to truly protecting 5% of our oceans and coastal areas this year, and 10% by 2020.
It came on the heels of a new study demonstrating the devastating impacts of seismic airguns on marine plankton – the basis of the marine food web. Hardly the act of a government that is heeding scientific advice.
After years of consultations, the process for designating the Laurentian Channel MPA as protected is working its way through the parliamentary system, and is on one of its last stops for public comment: the proposed rules and boundaries have been published in the Canada Gazette.
Its clear from what’s laid out there that the lobbying from the oil and gas industry has made its mark: only two small patches of the area will truly be protected. The rest will be open to oil and gas.
In the lazy days of summer, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans probably did not expect the push back he received to his announcement. But now he seems to be listening.
We need to keep the pressure on.
This area deserves full protection. And Canadians deserve to know that our commitment to protect key ocean and coastal seascapes will not be swayed by the lobbying of the oil and gas industry.
Please write to the Fisheries Minister to tell him you want all of the Laurentian Channel – and ALL MPAs – to be off-limits to oil and gas.
Thank you for taking action.
Gretchen Fitzgerald - National Programs Director
Sierra Club Canada Foundation