In 2010, CPAWS Quebec, Nature Québec, Attention FragÎles and the David Suzuki Foundation created the St. Lawrence Coalition. The coalition's objective was to fight the oil exploration project at Old Harry, but beyond that, to obtain a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the entire Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Legal victory protects the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil exploration
In January 2008, Corridor Resources was granted an exploration licence at the Old Harry site. This licence could not legally be renewed beyond its January 2017 expiration date. However, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) circumvented this legal requirement by issuing an identical licence, though with a different number! On May 15, 2017, Ecojustice, on behalf of CPAWS Quebec and its partners in the St. Lawrence Coalition, filed a legal challenge in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland to have this new permit quashed. The Court rendered its decision on July 3, 2020, and found in favour of the St. Lawrence Coalition and its partners: C-NLOPB exceeded its powers by granting a new permit to Corridor Resources.
A moratorium on oil and gas exploration activities
The Old Harry oil drilling project is dead and buried, but it has made everyone realize the fragility of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the importance of properly protecting it. The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a small semi-enclosed sea, and any spill could have catastrophic effects. The Gulf is a unique ecosystem that is home to more than 4 000 species, including many threatened marine mammals such as the blue whale, the right whale and the fin whale. It is also an exceptional home for numerous coastal communities in five provinces, all of which depend on sustainable industries such as fishing, mariculture and tourism. Finally, it is a vital space for the continuation of many First Nations’ subsistence activities.
The Gulf of St. Lawrence is shared among five coastal provinces, and any oil exploration project in the waters of one province could have major impacts on its neighbours. CPAWS and its partners in the St. Lawrence Coalition therefore believe that only a broad moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development in the entire gulf would adequately protect the unique ecosystem that is the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
© Nelson Boisvert, Jocelyn Praud
Corridor Resources files seismic project at Old Harry
Creation of the St. Lawrence Coalition to press for a moratorium on oil-and-gas exploration and development in the entire Gulf of St. Lawrence
Corridor Resources files a drilling project at Old Harry
Gulf-wide mobilization to stop the Old Harry project begins
Ecojustice files a legal challenge in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland
Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court strikes down Corridor Resources (now Headwater Exploration) oil exploration licence