lanes is not enough to help whales, says lawyer
BY MAC TRUEMAN
international shipping lane that comes into effect today may not be enough to
make the Bay of Fundy safe for the northern right whale, lawyer Frank Hogan
Mr. Hogan says this is why he still intends to
oppose the natural gas terminal that Irving Oil wants to build at Canaport,
even though the new shipping pathway is designed to lead commercial ships
around instead of through the area where 80 per cent of right whales feed in
the Bay of Fundy.
The new route is expected to reduce by
80 per cent the number of right whales struck by ships in the bay.
But Mr. Hogan argues that the large increase in tanker
traffic, which the gas terminal would bring to the Bay of Fundy, stands to undo
the reduction in whale collisions the new shipping lane is supposed to bring
Mr. Hogan wants the federal environmental impact
assessment for the proposed terminal to assess not only how much danger the
terminal by itself would pose to the right whale. The assessment must consider
all the other hazards posted to these whales in the Bay of Fundy, and determine
whether the total risk can be withstood by the whale population.
"The right whale is obviously in danger, and the Bay of
Fundy is one of the most dangerous areas for the right whale. Both of these
things are statements that come out of the scientific literature. And yet, we
don't appear to be addressing the cumulative impact.
"It's, `Oh, we'll add another LNG plant, we'll allow a
little more fishing here or we'll license some over on the Digby side.'
"It's not the individual activity, it's the overall thing
that's endangering the right whales in this area. So, just changing the
shipping lane may not overcome the other dangers ...
"Maybe we're taking one large step forward, and 10 small
Daniel Goodwin, Irving Oil spokesman,
rejected Mr. Hogan's argument.
"If you're moving the
highway to allow for wildlife to roam in a protected area, it doesn't matter
how many vehicles you have on that highway," he said. The gas terminal would
bring a tanker ship every five or six days, he said.
new lane adds four kilometres to the route to Saint John, and 12 kilometres to
pathways leading to Eastport, Me., and Bayside, near St. Andrews. It will force
ships to circumvent a 500 square-kilometre patch of sea lying between Grand
Manan and Digby that is the main summer feeding ground of these whales.