Extending the Georges Bank Moratorium makes sense

NoRigs 3 Coalition praise government for "doing the right thing"

Special for capecodtoday by Timothy Gillespie, Nova Scotia TODAY.

NoRigs 3 Coalition pleased with government decision to extend the current Georges Bank oil and gas moratorium on the unique fishing and spawning grounds and sensitive ecosystem.

"We are disappointed that the NDP government has chosen not to align its moratorium with the one until 2017 recently announced by President Obama in the United States."
               - Denny Morrow.

The NoRigs 3 Coalition of fishermen, fishing groups, environmentalists and Aboriginal groups congratulates the Nova Scotia government for doing the right thing in extending the moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development on Georges Bank for a period of three years.

"This avoids the unnecessary and expensive process of another lengthy review panel," says NoRigs spokesman Denny Morrow. Noted Canadian environmental activist and author David Suzuki had called on the weekend for an immediate extension of the moratorium, as had opposition Members in the Nova Scotia Assembly (MLAs), federal Members of Parliament from Nova Scotia, the Municipality of Lunenburg and the Municipality of Barrington, as have individuals and citizens groups.

"Given the lack of any scientific evidence that oil and gas development would be less harmful than the panel determined in 1999 and given the clear fact proven by the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that modern drilling technology is far from fail safe," adds Morrow, "we think that the government saw that there was no rationale for creating a lengthy and expensive process which would likely result in findings that it is still not worth the risk to the fishery, the resource, the fragile and unique ecosystem and to the cooperative relationship we have with the United States.

"We are disappointed that the NDP government has chosen not to align its moratorium with the one until 2017 recently announced by President Obama in the United States," adds Morrow. "We thought that five years would be the minimal extension period and we wonder why the government chose such a short extension. NoRigs intends to be vigilant in working with governments to continue to protect Georges Bank indefinitely and to protect the cooperative relationship with the U.S."

"We are somewhat pleased with the decision by Premier Dexter, Energy Minister (Bill) Estabrooks and the cabinet," says Mark Butler, NoRigs member and policy director for the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre, "but we are disappointed with the short timeframe.". "Despite the enormous pressure the government must have received from oil and gas interests, at least they saw the need to protect Georges Bank."

"Those of us engaged in the First Nations and the off reserve Aboriginal fisheries were concerned that offshore oil exploration and development could jeopardize the financial benefits that Aboriginal fishers and communities now have begun to enjoy from the various fisheries of the Bay of Fundy and Georges Bank," said Hubert Nicholas, First Nations commercial fisherman for 20+ years and now Commercial Fisheries Liaison Coordinator for the Unama'ki Institute of Natural Resources (UINR)."

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