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article imageShell Canada gives up exploration permits for protected area

By Karen Graham     Sep 15, 2018 in Environment
Vancouver - Shell Canada Ltd. has voluntarily given up it offshore exploration rights, clearing the way for the creation of Canada’s first protected marine area under the Canada Wildlife Act.
It was announced on Friday the company is releasing about 50,000-square kilometers (19,305 square miles) of exploratory permits – over one and a half times the size of Vancouver Island. This area is located within the Queen Charlotte and Tofino basins along the British Columbia coast.
Shell's exploratory permits overlap close to one-third of the newly designated Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area (SINWA). The wildlife area was established in June and is intended to conserve a vital marine area for millions of seabirds, fish, and mammals on the Pacific coast.
The SINWA protects 11,546-sq-kilometers (4,458 sq. miles) of a marine area off the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island. This area is a protected habitat for seabirds, at-risk species, and other wildlife, according to the federal government.
The Scott Islands area is a key ecological breeding and nesting habitat for 40 percent of BC’s seabirds, including 90 percent of Canada’s tufted puffins and 95 percent of Pacific Canada’s common murres, according to the Daily Hive.
“Canada’s coasts are home to some of the world’s most extraordinary natural beauty and rich ecosystems. Effective protection of our coasts, oceans, and wildlife requires strong partnerships and collaborative efforts on all sides,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, in a statement.
“Our government is pleased to be working with First Nations partners, the Government of British Columbia, and Shell to ensure the Scott Islands remain a thriving hub of biodiversity and marine life for generations to come.”
Management funding
The federal government will be providing $3.2 million in funding over five years for management of the area. The money will be used for monitoring, research and help in ridding the area of the seabird's predators. Wilkinson said the fisheries restrictions would remain in place.
The Fisheries Department is going to be consulting with industry and conservation groups about new regulations that would further strengthen protections of the SINWA. "We will also be consulting with fish harvesters about regulations to prohibit groundfish, bottom trawling in portions of the marine national wildlife area."
The Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area covers more than 11 500 square kilometres off the no...
The Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area covers more than 11,500 square kilometres off the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island.
Government of Canada
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society was very pleased with Shell Canada's move in relinquishing the exploration permits.
"I think it's a fantastic move that those permits are going to be gone and they will no longer be a threat, that any of those permits will be developed for offshore oil and gas if there's a change in government," said Sabine Jessen, national director of the society.
"I actually hope that some of the other companies that continue to hold licenses and permits in the area will follow suit."
Crothers says that even though Shell will continue to explore for oil and gas globally, they have no plans to do so off coastal B.C., particularly since the west coast has been under an exploration moratorium since 1972.
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