Coastal First Nations

Coastal First Nations

August 31, 2010 12:01 ET

Coastal First Nations say ban on oil tankers on BC coast must remain

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Energy Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor VANCOUVER, BC, NEWS RELEASE--(Marketwire - Aug. 31, 2010) - The proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project threatens the existence of First Nations on the North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii.

Art Sterritt, executive director of the Great Bear Initiative, told the Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel at a hearing in Kitimat today, it's inevitable that an oil spill will occur. "The consequences of an oil spill on the coast would not only be catastrophic to the pristine waters within our Traditional Territories but also to our people and our culture."

It is for those reasons that the ban on oil tankers on the BC coast remain, Sterritt said. "We have commissioned scientific reports and consulted with our communities over the past five years. The message we have received is clear - the ban on oil tankers must stay in place."

An oil spill would cause irreparable damage to the marine ecosystem and resources, he said. "Marine resources, whether for food, social or commercial use, are culturally and economically important to First Nations. We've spent the last decade creating a conservation-based economy that includes a very promising shellfish aquaculture industry. An oil spill would destroy that sustainable industry."

The recent BP oil spill in Louisiana and the Enbridge spill in Michigan occurred in relatively friendly marine environments, Sterritt said. "Yet they proved to be difficult to contain and clean up. The conditions on our coast are much harsher and that coupled with the existing archaic cleanup technology means an oil spill would destroy the marine ecosystem and the resources we depend so heavily on."

The Great Bear Initiative is not opposed to all resource developments on the coast. "But they must be properly planned and safe. They must contribute to sustainable economic development while protecting the environment and supporting coastal communities. The proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline does not meet those criteria."

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The Coastal First Nations is an alliance of First Nations on British Columbia's North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii whose goal is to create an ecologically and economically sustainable coast. Members of the Coastal First Nations include Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais , Nuxalk, Gitga'at, Haisla, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation. IN: ECONOMY, ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT

Contact Information

  • Art Sterritt, Executive Director, Coastal First Nations
    Primary Phone: 604-868-9110