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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Do You Think DFO's Silence on Enbridge and Super Tankers Should be Considered Gross Negligence?

Through all the concern and hoopla regarding Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline project, and the subsequent Tanker Traffic that would riddle the Northwest Coast, there is one Federal Department that has not raised any concerns about the threats that these developments will have on the primary area of their concern, The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). Considering DFO's mandate is to ensure healthy and abundant fish stocks, protecting the species that are outlined in the Species at Risk Act, and ensure the overall health of the marine environment and their ecosystems are cared for, they have been silent on an issue that will have significant impact on the marine environment whether there is a spill or not.

Consider the magnitude of the ships let alone the significant traffic from China that will result from development of the pipeline in Kitamaat, BC! In addition to the myriad of other marine traffic from carrier ships, cruise ships, tugs and barges, fishing vessels, and recreational vessels, this pipeline is expected to attract 225 or more tankers, and many of them Ultra or Very Large Crude Carriers (Super Tankers), navigating to and from our coastal waters through to Kitamaat by way of Douglas Channel.

Many highly experienced and educated individuals have said, it is not a matter of if, but when one of these Super Tanker has an accident as a result of mechanical, human error, and or environmental cause. Whether it collides with another vessel, a submerged rock, or our coastal shores, a BITUMEN oil spill from one of these Ultra Large Crude Carriers will cause a cataclysmic marine disaster that will destroy the resources we as First Nation relied on for thousands of years, not to mention those industry stakeholders who gain economic benefit from as well, such as Commercial Fishermen of all kinds, Eco-Tourism operators or Sports Fishing Lodges. Aside from the unthinkable risks of a major oil spill, which would devastate our marine ecosystem, these Super Tankers give noise equivalent to that of a airline jet, disrupting and changing the patterns of the marine species that inhabit the Northwest Coast. This can be very detrimental, especially to the Species at Risk such as the Orca Whale!

A recent Supreme Court decision ruled that the Federal Minister of Fisheries has a legal obligation to protect the Orca! The court said all elements of the plan must be enshrined in law. That would mean protecting the chinook salmon, that whales' main food source, reducing underwater noise from boat, industrial, and military activity and cleaning up toxic contamination in the whale's home ecosystem. The following CBC link provides further detail in this regard . Given this recent landmark decision and the ministries overall mandate, DFO has a moral, legal and fiduciary responsibility to do what it takes to protect all marine species from the significant risk that Super Tankers pose, especially those protected under the Species at Risk Act.

Herein lies the question, considering the risks inherent with the Enbridge proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline Project and the subsequent need for Super Tankers to transport the Bitumen Tar Sand to China and the roles and responsibilities of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Why hasn't DFO intervened on behalf of the very marine species they are mandated to protect and the fishing community that relies on them to ensure there is access to an economically viable fishery?

If one breaks down their responsibility to those two basic, yet vital reasons for DFO's being, it is apparent that this Ministry/Department is negligent in its duties!

1 comment:

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