November 23, 2011 — The battle to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas development received a major boost this week when American actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke benevolently lent his support to the cause. Mr. Hawke, a landowner along the Gulf in Nova Scotia, was approached by coastal landowners, fishermen, Mi'kmaq leaders and concerned citizens who felt their voices were not being heard. Mr. Hawke joins a growing list of celebrities including Dr. David Suzuki, author Farley Mowat, actor and director Jason Priestley, and music composer Philip Glass who have also spoken out in support of a moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
"The Gulf of St. Lawrence is truly unique in its beauty, culture and biodiversity; I feel it is important to support my east coast neighbours in their demand for a moratorium," explains Mr. Hawke. "We should take every measure possible to avoid making the same mistakes that were made with the Gulf of Mexico and preserve these precious renewable marine resources for future generations. The time has come to take action on this important issue before it is too late."
The David Suzuki Foundation, in collaboration with Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition and with the support of Mr. Hawke, is asking Canadian citizens to take action by demanding a moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf.
"Thousands of First Nations, Quebecois, Acadian and Gaelic coastal communities have historic precedence in these waters and have great interest in wanting to protect the Gulf's multi-billion dollar renewable fishery and tourism industries," affirms Mary Gorman, spokesperson for Save our Seas and Shores Coalition. "It would be foolish to consider risking a renewable global marine food supply that has sustained us for centuries, only to exploit unnecessary fossil fuels."
Both Quebec and Newfoundland are currently exploring the possibility of drilling oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The province of Quebec, now under provincial moratorium, is in the process of conducting public consultations to assess the risk factors involved with oil and gas exploitation in the Gulf. The situation in Newfoundland has become increasingly alarming, with the province currently poised to move forward with an exploratory drilling at the controversial Old Harry prospect, located only 6km from Quebec's jurisdiction, as early as next year. Similar attempts made by Nova Scotia to exploit the Gulf were halted a decade ago.
"The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a single body of water that should not be divided by man-made borders," states Dr. Jean-Patrick Toussaint of the David Suzuki Foundation. "The Gulf is home to more than 2,200 marine species which spawn, nurse and migrate there year-round. Exploratory drilling could seriously impact the feeding and migration of fish like Atlantic salmon, herring, mackerel and cod as well as marine mammals like the endangered blue whale."
Earlier this summer, numerous coastal communities and environmental groups asked federal Minister of the Environment Peter Kent to take leadership in overseeing the environmental implications and risks of permitting oil and gas drilling in the Gulf. However, the federal government ultimately delegated this responsibility to an unelected offshore provincial petroleum board.
"We are delighted and grateful to have Ethan Hawke graciously accept to support the battle to protect our Gulf," adds Ms. Gorman. "We hope that his public support will help draw greater attention to an issue that could potentially impact the coastlines and economy of all five provinces bordering the Gulf, and which requires critical action."
Concerned individuals and groups can sign the petition to demand a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence by visiting the David Suzuki website: http://action.davidsuzuki.org/st-lawrence
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For more information, please contact:
Manon Dubois, Communications Specialist
David Suzuki Foundation
Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition