The possible opening of tenders for oil exploration in a marine refuge for fishing activities deserves significant criticism from fishermen, scientists and conservation groups in Canada.
Last December the government agency Fisheries and Oceans of Canada announced the closure of the well-known northeast slope of Newfoundland, with the aim of protecting corals and sponges that are a vital habitat for fish, and contributing to the conservation of biodiversity. long-term.
However, weeks ago, the Oil Board of Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador requested oil exploration offers in the same area.
Organizations such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union have criticized the fact, arguing that it does not make sense to open the area to the oil industry while they close it. for fishing.
Lawmaker Nick Whalen, who is in favour of opening tenders for oil exploration at the marine refuge, told CBC News he does not mind the environmentalists’ criticisms.
It is perfectly reasonable that these areas are closed to fishing, to protect cold-water corals and other species of interest, but open to oil and gas, he said.
The Canadian government has set itself the goal of designating 10 percent of its coasts and ocean waters as marine protected areas.
Rodolphe Devillers, a geography professor at Memorial University who focuses on the oceans and has been very involved with science and policy regarding marine protected areas, is also concerned.
Devillers reflected that although we do not eat corals and sponges, these are a crucial habitat for fish like forests for birds, in addition to filtering water and acting as recycling agents.
Scientific studies suggest that oil exploration also has consequences for marine life because during the phase of placement of the extraction platforms, sediments are stirred and fluids fall that when in contact with sponges and corals, avoid the filtration process of water and end up strangling them.
While the number of oil spills has decreased in the last 50 years, the consequences of an accident are enormous.
In April 2010, the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon platform, in the Gulf of Mexico, caused one of the largest oil spills in history, estimated at 779 thousand tons.
As a consequence, the habitat of hundreds of marine and bird species was affected in part of the Gulf basin.