The Saint Croix Courier

St. Stephen, NB

2009 Sep 21

SPB concerned about safety of whales
in Head Harbour Passage


CAMPOBELLO – Save Passamaquoddy Bay, the group opposed to liquefied natural gas development in the bay, is concerned about the safety of whales frequenting Head Harbour Passage and further into Passamaquoddy Bay.

In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week, Robert Godfrey, researcher and webmaster for SPB, forwarded recent newspaper articles covering the issue.

The articles, he said, indicate there have been more whales observed at these locations this summer than for several decades, which may indicate a change in water current patterns or in feed stock behaviour.

“Whatever the cause, it is attracting several species of whales – including as many as 40 endangered north Atlantic right whales – close to shore exactly in the shipping fairway that would be used by LNG carriers for this project,” he said, referring to the Downeast LNG project.

“I am concerned that FERC may not be adequately protecting these marine mammals from ship strikes related to this LNG project as is required by law.”

Joyce Morrell of Campobello, who is a member of the Friends of Head Harbour Lighthouse, has also written to FERC as well as forwarding the group videos of the whales they have seen around the light station.

On Sept. 1, she said, she counted 10 finback whales, three humpback whales, several minke whales and two right whales feeding – all immediately around the mouth of the narrow Head Harbour Passage.

There are also several hundred porpoises that use this area at all times of the year, and many blue fin tuna as well, she said.

“This passage and bay are filled with life,” Morrell said. “This is a marine oasis, a rare concentration of living wild creatures that live here and depend upon the food and shelter this area produces for them.”

Tourists tell her how special this place is, Morrell said. The endangered whales are vulnerable, she said, and they do not flee boats, so care must be exercised around them.

All the whales consider this place a kind of refuge where food is still available when none is found elsewhere, Morrell said. The finbacks and minkes live within the circle of the islands and communities in the area in the summer months, she said.

“This rare abundance of marine life needs to be nurtured, protected, respected and celebrated for the gift it is,” Morrell said. “The value of this abundance to the surrounding communities is beyond price. It is the foundation of all our worth as communities and everything we value as communities.”

Morrell said there are risks with the transportation of LNG and the industrialization of these small, enclosed bays will bring certain destruction to the marine life.

“Industrialization is incompatible with biological life in general,” she said. “Its byproducts are certain to eventually degrade the bays with pollution, chemicals, disturbance, light, noise and harassment.”

A decision in favour of LNG terminals in this marine oasis is morally and ethically wrong, Morrell said.

“It is incompatible with our vision for our communities, destructive to our way of life, destructive to our rich marine and environmental heritage and destructive to the quality of our future growth and potential.”


© 2009 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.

The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB