**View a video of the public forum on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Oil, and Fracking online at this link.
The Public Forum was held at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University in Corner Brook on Sunday afternoon, February 1st, 2015. Guest panelists at the forum made connections between the issue of fracking in NL and broader regional concerns of oil development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The panelists included Irené Novaczek, PhD, Marine Ecologist, Adjunct Professor of Island Studies, University of Prince Edward Island; Chief Mi'sel Joe, Miawpukek Mi'kamawey Mawi'omi - Conne River Mi’kmaq Tribal Nation; and Dr Michael Bradfield, Economist and member of the Nova Scotia Independent Review of Hydraulic Fracturing.
Dr. Irene Novazcek, an expert in marine ecology, gave a very informative presentation by and on the state of the Gulf of St. Lawrence bioregion. Dr. Novaczek described the Gulf as the most productive marine ecosystem in Canada, containing the largest concentration of krill in the northwest Atlantic. Krill is a foundation species in the marine food chain of the Gulf, which is home to over 2,000 marine species that spawn, nurse and migrate year round. The Gulf of St. Lawrence gives the largest lobster production in the world. Over one million tons of mature marine fish funnel through the Gulf each spring and fall. Endangered blue whale, right whale, piping plover, leatherback turtle, and harlequin duck depend on a healthy Gulf.
Dr Novaczek referred to licenses being issued for oil exploration and development off the west coast of our province and she also spoke about other oil developments such as the Old Harry project between the Magdalene Islands and Western Newfoundland. She stated that the Gulf already faces environmental threats of land-based sources of pollution such as heavy metals and pesticides; shipping discharges; coastal development; and climate and air quality issues. The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a semi-enclosed sea, with currents that flow counter clockwise within the Gulf for up to 11 months before exiting into the Atlantic. The marine ecologist referred to the DFO Habitat Status Report(2001) which states: “Any impacts from oil and gas exploration activities will be amplified due to the small, shallow, enclosed nature of the environment and the high biomass and diversity year-round.”
Chief Misel Joe's gave a passionate and inspirational talk about about our political and cultural disconnect from our environment and the ways in which we are increasingly polluting our air, water and land. He believes that our provincial anthem is a lie and that despite all the references in the Ode to Newfoundland regarding "we loving our smiling, windswept and frozen land" our actions speak otherwise. He was given a standing ovation.
The panel presentations were followed by a moderated open, lively and informative question and answer session with members of the public.
The forum was organized and hosted by representatives of the Social Justice Co-operative http://www.socialjusticecoopnl.ca/ and Newfoundland and Labrador representatives of the Save our Seas and Shores organization http://saveourseasandshores.ca/ as well as other supportive individuals in the community.
Panelists' Background Information:
Irené Novaczek (née Hall) BSc Hons, PhD
Marine Ecologist, Inova Coastal Community Consulting
Adjunct Professor of Island Studies, University of Prince Edward Island
My university training was in biology, chemistry, benthic marine ecology and marine botany followed by post-doctoral work in marine survey, algal biogeography and shellfish toxicology. Initially focused on the ecology and biogeography of marine plants, I developed into a researcher, teacher, community facilitator and program administrator in the areas of environmental conservation, marine resource management and community development. My international work in small island community development focused on resource monitoring and management, including development and maintenance of marine protected areas.
From 1990 through 2004, my role as a scientific advisor to the Canadian Environmental Network included participation in multi-sector negotiations among industry, aboriginal, union, government and environmental sectors. One of my strengths is the ability to bridge the gaps among academic, government and community stakeholders.
From 2004-2013 I was Director of the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI, where I led research projects on a wide range of topics, e.g. the social economy, traditional knowledge of aboriginal peoples, Island sense of place, community-based resource management and climate change adaptation among others. I have always maintained an active interest in marine ecology, community development and governance, being an active community volunteer and Councilor for Breadalbane Municipality. Currently I am working as an independent consultant, most recently for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
I am an experienced trainer and researcher and have authored many peer-reviewed publications and book contributions as well as technical reports, policy briefs and community manuals. I also have long experience in the training and supervision of student researchers at both undergraduate and graduate levels.
Dr. Chief Mi'sel Joe
Miawpukek Mi'kamawey Mawi'omi - Conne River Mi’kmaq Tribal Nation
Dr. Chief Mi’sel Joe comes from a long line of saqamaws or chiefs in the Mi’kmaq territory. Chief Joe was educated in Mi’kmaq traditions. After having left the reserve as a young man, he returned in 1973 and became involved in band government politics, first as a councillor, then as a traditional saqamaw and the Newfoundland district chief for the Mi’kmaq Grand Council.
Mi'sel was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by Memorial University of Newfoundland & Labrador in 2004, in recognition of Mi'sel’s contribution to the economic, social and political development of the Mi’kmaq people of Newfoundland & Labrador.
He is a member of the Atlantic Policy Congress, the First Nations Trust Fund, Newfoundland Museum Advisory Committee, Ulnooweg Development Group Ltd and the Aboriginal Capacity and Development Research Centre. He also holds a community seat at the United Nations (Human Rights).
Dr. Michael Bradfield
Michael Bradfield taught Economics for 39 years at Dalhousie, retiring in 2007.
His specialty is Regional Economics, but his research interests and publications cover many applications of economics, particularly the impacts of market imperfections on regional development and on market performance generally, and macroeconomic policy.
Michael has worked with civil society groups involved in social justice, the environment (natural and built) and prepared briefs for them to municipal, provincial, and federal committees and Royal Commissions. In addition, he has been an invited witness to committees of both the House of Commons and the Senate, on finance and technological change, respectively. During the summer of 2014, he served on the panel reviewing the implications of hydraulic fracturing for Nova Scotia.