Clarke reckless in promoting seismic work

Letter to editor from Bruno Marcocchio
Cape Breton Post
Saturday, Nov. 15, 2003

Nova Scotia Energy Minister, Cecil Clarke, continues to throw all caution to the wind, insisting he wants seismic testing to proceed off of western Cape Breton, in the Southern Gulf of St Lawrence, despite the warnings of independent scientists, DFO scientists and fishermens organizations. Why Clarke is refusing even to sit down with fishermen, tourist operators and environmental organizations whom he has long promised to meet with, to discuss to their concerns, is unacceptable.

During the Teresa MacNeil hearings into the seismic exploration the Department of Fisheries and Oceans testified that this area is more sensitive than Georges Bank currently under moratorium for oil and gas development. They testified that at this time of year two billion pounds of marine life migrate, en route Sydney Bight, through the waters Mr Clarke wants to allow exploration in.

Yesterday independent scientists warned that not enough is known to ensure that marine mammals and fish like white hake, will not be adversely affected. As part of the ad hoc scientific working group they made it clear that the Canada Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum board is misrepresenting their work when they say that the scientific concerns have been adequately addressed by the mitigation measures proposed. Fish larva will be killed, marine mammals will be adversely impacted, threatened and endangered fish stocks will have their hearing impaired and migration disturbed by these activities. Vulnerable stocks like hake may be wiped out by the activity.

Fishermen representing the 100 million dollar a year Cape Breton crab fishery have concerns that no science on the impacts on crab have been done. Lobster fishermen have also been denied the promised meetings with Clarke about their concerns. Why does Cecil Clarke refuse to meet with his own constituents who are representatives of these lucrative, sustainable industries?

A Strategic Environmental Assessment on the whole of the Southern Gulf of St Lawrence is essential before reckless exploration destroys sustainable, valuable industries like fishing and tourism. It is time Clarke realized how unimportant the few million in royalties to the province from oil and gas are and how few jobs for Nova Scotian's the industry produces. His blindness to the potential economic and environmental costs is unacceptable. His unwillingness to even discuss real concerns with his own constituents and stakeholders is a testament to his arrogance. It is time he woke up to how little there is to gain and how much we stand to lose with his reckless, illogical, development at any cost mindset.

Bruno Marcocchio