HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 1, 2012) -
Additional background information online at: www.novascotiatoday.com/norigs3
The Norigs 3 Coalition of fishermen, seafood processors, first Nations and environmental organizations is expressing concern as the second 10-year petroleum exploration moratorium on Georges Bank expires December 31, 2012.
Georges Bank has been off-limits to oil and gas exploration since the early 1990's and is arguably the most productive spawning and fishing ground in Canadian Atlantic waters. Georges Bank is a rich feeding ground for whales, seabirds and a wide variety of marine life. The Bank straddles the international boundary between Canadian and American waters.
Denny Morrow, a spokesperson for the Coalition, says that the current 10-year moratorium that expires at the end of this December is embedded in both the Nova Scotia and federal Off-Shore Accord Acts that govern the Canada/Nova Scotia Off-Shore Petroleum Board. "Both governments must amend these Acts if the current moratorium is to be extended and protected through legislation," Morrow said.
The Nova Scotia House of Assembly voted unanimously with all-party support in December 2010 to extend the moratorium for another 10 years until 2022.
The Act passed by the House of Assembly instructed the Energy Minister to communicate the provincial government's desire to extend the current moratorium on Georges Bank to 2022 to the federal Minister of Natural Resources and to seek federal agreement to amend both Accord Acts or to adopt new "mirror legislation".
Morrow says that the two previous moratoria were implemented quickly once the Nova Scotia governments led by Premiers John Buchanan and John Hamm made the request for joint federal and provincial recognition of the moratoria in the Accord Acts. Norigs members became alarmed when 2011 passed without changes to the Off-Shore Accord Acts.
Coalition members met with Premier Darrell Dexter and Energy Minister Charlie Parker early in 2012 to express concern. The Premier informed the group that communication with the federal Minister of Natural Resources and his staff has not resulted in a federal agreement to amend the federal Accord Act and to extend the moratorium until 2022.
Norigs representatives have since met with West Nova MP Greg Kerr and with DFO Minister Keith Ashfield to express concern about the approaching 10-year moratorium expiration at the end of December.
The group asked the MP and the DFO Minister to discuss their concern about the apparent unwillingness of the federal government to follow the lead of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly and extend the moratorium until 2022. Norigs has also written Minister Joe Oliver to request a meeting in order to clarify the federal position in regard to protecting Georges Bank.
"Norigs 3 Coalition members remain hopeful that West Nova MP Greg Kerr and the current acting DFO Minister will be successful in convincing federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver to open discussions with the Nova Scotia government on implementing another 10-year moratorium extension on Georges Bank," adds Coalition member and an owner of Inshore Fisheries Ltd., Claude d'Entremont.