St-Lawrence Coalition

The St-Lawrence Coalition was put in place by CPAWS Quebec, Nature Québec, Attention FragÎles and The David Suzuki Foundation in November of 2010. The coalition brings together organisations, associations and citizens to ask the federal government and the provincial governments of the five provinces which border the golf to implement a moratorium on petroleum and natural gas exploration and exploitation in the entire Gulf of St-Lawrence without delay.

Petroleum companies have shown interest in performing exploration of the Gulf of St Lawrence for its natural gas and petroleum producing potential for several years. The most advanced of these projects has been the exploration of the Old Harry site. This project was tabled in February 2011 by Corridor Resources to perform offshore drilling 80 km off the coast of les Îles de la Madeleine. The government of Newfoundland has not given the authorisation for Corridor Resources to begging drilling at this site, and the proposal is being submitted to a rigorous public consultation process as well as consultation with First Nations.

CPAWS Quebec believes that a moratorium on drilling in the entirety of the Gulf of St Lawrence should be put in place. As the Gulf of St Lawrence is seven times smaller than the Gulf of Mexico, any spills in the gulf could have catastrophic effects. The gulf is a unique ecosystem which provides a home for more than 4000 species, including several species of marine mammals such as the blue whale and the fin whale. Many coastal communities in the five provinces bordering the gulf also depend on sustainable fishing and tourism industries, which are highly dependent on sustained health of the gulf.

Legal action to protect the Gulf of St-Lawrence from petroleum exploitation activities

On May 15th 2017, on behalf of CPAWS Quebec, and its partners in the St Lawrence Coalition, Nature Québec, Attention FragÎles and The David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice filed a lawsuit against the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) to revoke the new exploration licence which has been granted to Corridor Resources.

A licence for oil exploration on the Old Harry site covering a maximum duration of nine years was granted to Corridor Resources in January of 2008. Laws very clearly state that this licence could not be extended past its nine-year term. Though this licence should have expired on January 14th 2017, the CNLOPB has sidestepped the issue and allowed for the continuation of work under this licence by reissuing this licence with a different number.

By demanding that this licence be revoked, CPAWS Quebec and its partners hope to strengthen the integrity of the protection of the Gulf of St Lawrence from the risks associated with petroleum exploration.  A moratorium on all petroleum and natural gas exploration and exploitation is ultimately needed in the Gulf of St Lawrence. This moratorium would protect the Gulf of St-Lawrence’s 4000 species, the sustainable fishing and tourism industries which coastal communities in the five provinces bordering on the gulf depend and subsistence activities of the region’s First Nations.

Read the Press Release: Enviro groups sue over drilling in Gulf of St. Lawrence

For more information:

Sylvain Archambault
Biologist and SNAP Québec representative in the St-Lawrence Coalition