Don’t sell out ocean management to oil interests, Opposition says

SMITHERS/VANCOUVEROfficial Opposition New Democrats today accused the Conservative government of sabotaging a comprehensive ocean management plan to protect the environment and economic needs of the Pacific North Coast. The political decision, based on pressure from large oil and gas corporations, will put the marine planning process – and the Pacific coast – at risk.

The Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) planning process has been a joint effort by the federal, provincial and First Nations governments to obtain input from residents and stakeholders on a plan to protect the cultural, economic, and ecological health of the Pacific North Coast.

New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) said the federal government’s sudden and unilateral withdrawal from the funding agreement smacks of political interference.

“Everybody has been in favor of this process. The provincial government wants it, First Nations want it – even the Department of Fisheries and Oceans wanted to continue. But the Prime Minister has put big oil company interests ahead of good policy and scuttled the plan.”

“It’s outrageous that the federal government is withdrawing from PNCIMA,” said New Democrat Fisheries and Oceans critic Fin Donnelly.

“This management process will help determine where economic activity should and should not occur along BC’s sensitive coast. It will also help protect ecologically sensitive areas of the ocean and our fisheries. Canada has made an international commitment to establish marine protected areas by 2012, and its highly political decision to withdraw from PNCIMA puts this at risk.”

“They’re clearly throwing a bone to their oil patch buddies and to Enbridge – trying to help them build a pipeline that nobody wants through one of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse places in Canada,” said Cullen.  “The government should immediately reverse its decision and come back to the table.”