Oil drilling moratorium on Georges Bank extended
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By Kevin Jess
May 18, 2010 in World
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Halifax - Canada's federal and Nova Scotia governments have extended the moratorium on oil and gas exploration and drilling on Georges Bank to December 31, 2015. They say the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had little to do with their decision.
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter said in a press release, "We know that any decision on whether or not to lift the moratorium on Georges Bank could have significant economic and environmental impacts on the province, the country, and beyond. It is critical that government understands these impacts before such a decision is made."
In place since 1988, the ban was set to expire in 2012. This extension brings Canada's position with respect to Georges Bank more in line with that of the United States which recently opted to extend its ban until 2017, reports the Globe and Mail.
Mr. Dexter assured, "We would want solid science and a full public review before making any decision to lift the moratorium. I have heard the public's concerns and I am confident that extending the moratorium will put people's minds at ease."
Georges Bank is well known for an abundance of haddock, halibut and scallops, but it is also home to endangered species of whales and turtles.
A major oil spill in the Georges Bank area would be "monstrous to think about," said Wayne Petersen, director of the Important Bird Areas program for the Massachusetts Audubon Society, considering the abundance of sea birds off the coast of New England.
Some have questioned whether the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will affect Georges Bank.
Avijit Gangopadhyay, associate dean of UMass Dartmouth's School for Marine Science and Technology and a professor in the department of estuarine and ocean science said to SouthCoast Today, while oil will dissipate as it travels, "water knows no boundaries. Wherever the current will go, it will take (the oil) with it."
Although Mr. Gangopadhyay admits it is "far-fetched" that the oil from the Gulf could reach Massachusetts, he said it could do so if the so-called Loop Current moves it around Key West, Florida.
If this were to happen the current would ferry the oil up the east coast.
On Monday, CNN reported tar balls being found on a Florida Keys beach.
Researchers reportedly are saying it is unlikely although not impossible that the tar balls have resulted from the oil spill south of Louisiana but they agree with federal officials that a plume of oil is in the process of being sucked into the Gulf of Mexico's Loop Current.
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