VANCOUVER — While the David Suzuki Foundation welcomed today's federal government announcement to improve West Coast marine safety and oil spill response, it pointed out what's missing for a real oceans protection plan.
"Improving responses to spills on B.C.'s coast is absolutely necessary, as we've seen recently with the botched spill recovery near Bella Bella," said Jay Ritchlin, the Foundation's director-general for Western Canada. "It's impossible, however, to adequately clean up oil spills, especially bitumen. As long as we keep increasing transport of fossils fuels, ecosystems, wildlife and communities remain at unacceptably high risk.
"With a decision by the federal government about the Kinder Morgan pipeline project just around the corner, coastal ecosystem security should be front-and-centre. This government must say no to expanding fossil fuel infrastructure."
Industry only recovers on average 14 per cent of oil in a spill and the impacts are felt in ecosystems for many years. "There's no coastal security with this kind of poor oil spill recovery, especially with plans to increase tanker traffic seven-fold should the Kinder Morgan pipeline project be approved," Ritchlin said.
Real security for coastal communities and wildlife must go beyond spill response measures. That requires effective marine planning and protected areas, wild salmon and killer whale recovery and a ban on tankers for the North Coast, according to the Foundation.
"We were disappointed that today's announcement focused on clean up after the fact rather than avoiding oil spills in the first place by reducing fossil fuel production and transportation.
"If the federal government was focused on meeting Canada's marine biodiversity targets and protecting coastal ecosystems, it would ratify a long-awaited framework for ocean planning for the north Pacific.
"The safety of wild salmon and other marine species, including the 80 remaining endangered southern resident killer whales, has to be part of any plan for the coast. Following the lowest B.C. sockeye salmon run in recorded history, acting on the Cohen Commission recommendations and investing in actions under Canada's Wild Salmon Policy is more important than ever," Ritchlin said.
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Jay Ritchlin, Director-General Western Canada, David Suzuki Foundation