Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Around the Arctic January 20, 2015 - 8:25 am

National action group weighs in on Nunavut seismic testing dispute

“Today we stand with the people of Clyde River"

THOMAS ROHNER
Clyde River residents in July 2014, protesting the National Energy Board's approval of a five-year seismic testing proposal for Baffin Bay and Davis Strait. (FILE PHOTO)
Clyde River residents in July 2014, protesting the National Energy Board's approval of a five-year seismic testing proposal for Baffin Bay and Davis Strait. (FILE PHOTO)

The Hamlet of Clyde River continues to find friends in high places in its legal battle against the National Energy Board’s approval of seismic testing in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait, proposed to start in the summer of 2015.

The Council of Canadians — a prominent social action group — issued an online petition Jan. 16. The petition calls on its supporters to send letters opposing the testing to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Peter Watson, chair of the National Energy Board.

“Today we stand with the people of Clyde River and support their right to protect their lands, waters and wildlife,” Brent Patterson, the council’s political director, wrote on the organization’s blog.

And Clyde River’s newfound friends come from other places, too, around the world.

The Youth Arctic Coalition — an international organization of young people confronting environmental and economic challenges in the Arctic — published a video Jan. 19 on their website in support of Clyde River’s fight against the NEB.

“The YAC has brought youth from all corners of the world to say ‘not now’ to seismic testing,” their website says.

The NEB approved a five-year seismic testing proposal from a group of Norwegian companies in June 2014, despite fierce opposition from people in Clyde River, Pond Inlet, Qikitarjuaq and Arctic Bay.

In response to the NEB’s approval, residents of Clyde River, including mayor Jerry Natanine and Niore Iqalukjuak, began mobilizing support for a campaign to stop the seismic testing and the underwater oil and gas exploration expected to follow the testing.

The hamlet found an unlikely partner in Greenpeace International, and hired a lawyer to file an application before the Federal Court of Appeal that alleges the NEB’s decision “violates the fundamental rights of the people of Nunavut”.

In December the lawyer hired to represent Clyde River and others opposed to the seismic testing filed a motion to speed the appeal court’s decision, pointing out that the approved testing is scheduled to begin this summer.

Offshore seismic testing involves ships dragging air guns, which periodically blast sounds to detect the possibility of oil and gas reservoirs beneath the ocean’s floor.

Those opposed to the testing say the method is too-little understood to know the affects it will have on marine life, and that the NEB’s scope in approving the proposal was too narrow.

“It can cause hearing loss and disrupt migration behaviour of marine animals like narwhals and the fish they feed on,” Patterson wrote on the council’s blog.

“Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait are home to more than 80 per cent of the world’s population of narwhals.”

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