Magazine article Alternatives Journal

East Coast Groups Say "NORIGS" in Rich Marine Area

Magazine article Alternatives Journal

East Coast Groups Say "NORIGS" in Rich Marine Area

Article excerpt

NORIGS 2000 wants to keep oil rigs off Georges Bank. The coalition of fishing, environmental, and community groups is promoting the extension of a moratorium on oil and gas development in the sensitive marine area.

Georges Bank, off southwestern Nova Scotia, is one of the most biologically productive marine ecosystems in the world. It has supported a rich and diverse fishery for hundreds of years.

Since 1986, there has been a moratorium on petroleum development on the Canadian side of Georges Bank. A federal-provincial public review panel is now reviewing the moratorium, which is due to expire at the end of 1999.

NORIGS 2000 is concerned about potential harm to Georges' ecological resources, especially from accidents such as blowouts or spills. "The risk to the marine environment is too great," says spokesperson Derek Wells.

Oil and gas companies want an end to the Canadian moratorium. David Manning of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers insists that "the industry can co-exist with the ecosystem and other resource users."

NORIGS members are not persuaded. Of special concern is fish reproduction, which can be disturbed by seismic exploration and toxic contamination. Fishery representative Brian Giroux explains, "it's hard to find a time of the year when exploration would not interfere with spawning."

Giroux is also concerned about the exclusion zones around oil rigs. Fishing effort is concentrated on certain areas of Georges Bank. Any drilling in those areas would force fishers to move to less productive fishing grounds. …

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