Canada’s Environment Watchdog Warns our Oceans At Risk from Oil Spills, Lack of Protection

February 5, 2013



Halifax, NS Sierra Club Canada –Atlantic Canada Chapter is calling for immediate action to remedy gaps on ocean protection outlined in the Fall 2012 Report of the Commissioner on the Environment and Sustainable Development, released today. The Report focused on the offshore petroleum boards and federal departments’ ability to safeguard the environment, oil spill readiness, and progress in establishing a network of marine protected areas in Canada.

“This report indicates that at the current glacial pace of progress, we will have to wait a decades for a network of protected areas. Our oceans are in dire shape – we simply cannot wait that long. And instead of greater progress, in the last year we have seen a systematic dismantling of the laws and capacity needed to protect our oceans and those that rely on them for their livelihoods,”says Dr. Fred Winsor, Conservation Chair of Sierra Club Canada –Atlantic Canada Chapter, “This report shows that the Canadian government is not meeting its commitments to Canadians or the world to protect our fish and fisheries. ”

Sierra Club is pushing for the establishment of a protected area off Southern Newfoundland that would lead to the recovery of imperiled cod populations and protection for skates and sharks and deep-sea corals. They are also calling for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, better assessment of oil and gas activities, and the removal of caps on liability for companies.

“It is alarming that caps on no-questions asked liability for oil spills in Canada are $40 million maximum, when the BP spill is estimated to cost $40 billion - one thousand times that cap,”according to Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director of the Atlantic Canada Chapter of Sierra Club, “The Commissioner’s report shows that we are not ready to respond to spills that could devastate this region.  Atlantic Canadians, not big oil, will be left holding the bag if these regulatory problems are not fixed.“



For further information, please contact:

Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director, Sierra Club Canada – Atlantic Canada Chapter

902-444-3113 or

Fred Winsor, Northeast Avalon Group – Sierra Club Canada – 709-738-3781 or


Link to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development’s Report, Fall 2012:


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