The Nova Scotia government Thursday announced an extension of a ban on oil and gas drilling in the Canadian sector of the great fishing grounds known as Georges Bank.
Premier Darrel Dexter said the extension will bar drilling through the end of 2015.
A ban announced by President Obama earlier this year protects the larger U.S. sector of Georges through 2017.
The most westerly of the great North Atlantic fishing banks is oval shaped and about the size of Massachusetts. It has been worked since pre-Colonial times and helped make Gloucester the nation's iconic fishing port.
The Canadian national and Nova Scotia provincial governments share authority for the decision.
The previous ban required a decision by June 1 whether to reopen the issue for a new study.
The decision by Nova Scotia was to not begin a reconsideration or reverse the decision against drilling.
Dexter cited the Deepwater Horizon explosion and uncontrolled flow of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast as influencing the decision against even reviewing the no drill order.
But the announcement also made clear there are long-term possibilities for drilling and oil exploration.
"We know that any decision on whether or not to lift the moratorium on Georges Bank could have significant economic and environmental impacts on the province, the country, and beyond," Dexter said. "It is critical that government understands these impacts before such a decision is made.
"We would want solid science and a full public review before making any decision to lift the moratorium. I have heard the public's concerns and I am confident that extending the moratorium will put people's minds at ease."
The research only began recently, and preliminary results suggest there will be more work to do.
The NoRigs 3 Coalition of anti-drilling interests, fishermen, environmentalists and aboriginal groups congratulated the government. "This avoids the unnecessary and expensive process of another lengthy review panel," said coalition spokesman Denny Morrow.
But he added that the coalition is "disappointed that the New Democratic Party (that was elected last year) has chosen not to align its moratorium with the one until 2017, recently announced by President Obama in the U.S."
Richard Gaines may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3464 or email@example.com.