No one wants another disaster like the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But it can easily happen in the Gulf of St. Lawrence now that the federal government has approved oil and gas exploration and drilling there.
The Gulf of St. Lawrence is the world’s largest estuary. Its special mixture of salt and fresh water creates a fragile home for distinct species like the Greenland Shark and Beluga Whale.
The endangered Blue Whale and Leatherback Turtle rely on it for their near-term survival, while thousands of people rely on it for fishing and tourism jobs, and millions enjoy life along its shores.
If you're interested in making a general donation to the Blue Whale Campaign, click here and be sure to specify in the comment section you want your money going to our work. Thank you!
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.
Zack Metcalfe is leading 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 was the Name a Whale Challenge, where members of the public were invited to suggest a name for an Atlantic Canadian blue whale. Proceeds are being 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.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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 petition 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