March 10, 2015

Big Oil to Blast Arctic Sea Bed: Narwhal Populations at Serious Risk.

 

whales

In another step backwards for Canadians concerned with environmental and animal rights issues, it has been announced that the Canadian government has granted oil companies permission to search for drilling sites near Clyde River, Nunavut.

The method of choice to find pockets of underwater oil? Seismic Testing.

Canada’s reputation within the worldwide environmental community has fared badly under the Conservative government. There truly is no polite way of stating this. The plan is opposed by the Inuit communities of Clyde River, Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuag and Greenpeace.

The National Energy Board and a group of Norwegian companies have banded together for a five year seismic testing plan in the waters of Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait.

The Arctic waters are home to 90 percent of the world’s Narwhal Whale population. It has been speculated by scientists that underwater explosions such as that from seismic testing and/or maneuvers conducted by the defense department in the past has been the cause of whale beaching.

The Inuit community—for which the tusked Narwhal whale has been a staple in their survival—is concerned that the great mammal, which uses their hearing to communicate, will be deafened and disoriented (if not killed) by the seismic explosions. The entire ecosystem of the Arctic Ocean can hardly escape irreparable damage from such commercial activities.

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq has taken Greenpeace to task challenging that they are using the Inuit to further their cause. (Greenpeace has previously opposed the seal hunt but have since apologized for the impact their campaign had on the Inuit community.) Greenpeace has taken their petition to the United Nations and are joining forces with the Inuit against seismic testing in the Arctic. The message to Ottawa is that seismic waves are gravely dangerous to marine life. An Inuit environmentalist, Niore Iqalakjuak, is opposing the Nunavut MP Aglukkaq, saying that Inuit lives depend on Arctic waterways, and accuses the Conservative government of “cultural genocide.”

Considering the deeply ingrained injustices bestowed upon First Nations by the Canadian government in the past, I can only imagine what kind of rift this is causing between policy makers and the Inuit people.
The National Energy Board has said that “sufficient efforts” have been made to consult Inuit communities and that the companies in question must use four marine observers on each seismic run and two of those will be Inuit. They must also inform each affected community and fishing companies of the position of each ship deployed for testing.

The MKI (Multi-Klient Invest) claims that they can mitigate any damage to marine mammals. Mitigation is not elimination in my opinion: there will be damage, it’s simply a matter of how well companies can protect themselves from damage allegations.

The territory covered will stretch from the southern tip of Baffin Bay northwards to 180 km east of Lancaster Sound, 12 nautical miles from land to the international boundary with Greenland.

I, a proud Canadian, stand united with the Inuit, Greenpeace and other Canadian citizens against the never-ending environmental compromises made by our present government. No diplomacy here.

 

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Sources:

SumOfUs 2014, The Canadian Press, Global News

 

 

Relephant:

People of a Feather: A Last-Chance Look at Saving the Arctic.

The Political Power of Native Treaties to Stop Environmental Degradation.

 

 

 

Author: Monika Carless 

Editor: Renée Picard 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons 

 

 

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