WWF celebrates as Shell to relinquish Canadian Arctic offshore oil permits | WWF

WWF celebrates as Shell to relinquish Canadian Arctic offshore oil permits

Posted on 08 June 2016    
Two narwhal (Monodon monoceros) surfacing to breathe in Admiralty Inlet, Lancaster Sound, Nunavut, Canada.
© Paul Nicklen/National Geographic Stock / WWF-Canada
WWF welcomes Shell Canada’s decision announced today to relinquish offshore oil exploration permits in Arctic Canada. The potential drilling area was in Canada's high Arctic, in the Last Ice Area, where summer sea ice is projected to persist when it is gone in much of the rest of the Arctic. The leases were also within a potential protected area boundary put forward by local Inuit.

The permits were granted more than 40 years ago and recently disputed in a lawsuit by WWF-Canada. By renouncing these permits today, the most significant threat to the species and people in the Lancaster Sound region will be eliminated. The stage will now be set for the Government of Canada to protect a region larger than currently planned, as advocated by Inuit groups and WWF.

Quote from David Miller, president and CEO of WWF-Canada
“This is an exceptionally important win for conservation. Our long-term efforts to create marine protected areas and expand protection for Lancaster Sound inevitably led to a focus on eliminating these offshore oil exploration permits and ending the risk of a spill. The end of these permits improves the quality of the proposed protected area and allows for the proposed boundaries to be expanded.
“At the same time, this announcement is so much bigger than Lancaster Sound. This shows that business, local communities, Indigenous peoples, environmental organizations and the government can work together to achieve significant results as we shift toward a low-carbon economy.”
 
Quote from Paul Crowley, vice-president of Arctic conservation, WWF-Canada
“Today’s announcement for Lancaster Sound is a credit to the local people and organizations who have been tirelessly defending the ecological integrity of the region for more than 40 years. It was these people and groups who identified the incredible biodiversity in Lancaster Sound and who spoke out against development that would compromise it.
 
“This Arctic region is far from the desolate place that southerners may imagine. Marine mammals, including narwhal, polar bear, beluga and bowhead whales, return each summer to feed in nutrient-rich waters. Now that there is nothing to stop the protection of this incredible region, we can move quickly to create the Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area.”
 
About Lancaster Sound:
  • The proposed National Marine Conservation Area was initiated in response to an exploratory oil well proposal and has been under consideration by the federal government since the early 1970s.
  • 70,000 narwhals, three quarters of the global population, return often to their favourite locations within the area.
  • WWF-Canada has developed this interactive map that showcases the region, its people and species.
  • Inuit organizations and WWF-Canada have called for the region covered by the relinquished permits to be included in the NMCA designation as it is an important upwelling area with nutrient-rich water.
  • It’s at the southern edge of the Last Ice Area, the only Arctic region expected to retain its summer sea ice until 2050 as the world warms, making it a critically important zone for the future of ice-dependent life.
Two narwhal (Monodon monoceros) surfacing to breathe in Admiralty Inlet, Lancaster Sound, Nunavut, Canada.
© Paul Nicklen/National Geographic Stock / WWF-Canada Enlarge

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