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CPAWS vows vigilance following court case ruling on seismic testing case in marine protected areas

  • Published on Sep 01 2009 |
  • This article is tagged as: bc

CPAWS will continue to promote stronger safeguards for species living in Canada’s marine protected areas, despite an August 27th federal court ruling that will allow a U.S. research ship to conduct seismic testing in a marine protected area, The court motion to stay the government-issued permit had been filed on behalf of CPAWS and Living Oceans Society by Ecojustice.

“We’re disappointed that seismic testing will go forward in the Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents Marine Protected Area. However, our challenge will hopefully result in improved monitoring of marine mammals. We’ll be reviewing the marine mammal observation data to determine whether these new measures effectively protected whales and dolphins from harassment,” says Sabine Jessen, CPAWS’ national oceans program manager.

The Endeavor vents are located in the Pacific Ocean, about 250 kilometres off the coast of B.C.

On August 27, 2009, the Federal Court dismissed the groups’ motion to stay the foreign vessel clearance granted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to US research ship the R.V. Marcus Langseth to conduct seismic testing in the Endeavour Marine Protected Area. The activity will include repetitive sound blasts underwater at levels of up to 160 decibels.

Ecojustice, on behalf of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and Living Oceans Society, had sought to halt seismic testing in Canada’s first Marine Protected Area and surrounding waters, a known habitat of endangered blue whales, threatened fin whales and other marine mammals. Justice Kelen of the Federal Court determined that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, following our motion, had imposed improved mitigation measures on the vessel to attempt to protect whales and dolphins from unlawful harassment.

“We’re relieved that our efforts in court caused the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to improve the safety of this seismic research project, and to impose stronger environmental conditions on the vessel. DFO officials have shown that they are willing to listen to scientists. We intend to work further with government officials to ensure better management of our Marine Protected Areas across Canada,” adds Jessen.

In his ruling, Justice Kelen pointed out that the Canadian government likely put these improved mitigation measures for whales and dolphins in place due to our legal intervention.


For further information, contact:

Sabine Jessen, CPAWS National Oceans Program Manager, (604) 657-2813