Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 17, 2011 – The Honourable Peter Kent, Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Regional Minister for Nova Scotia, and the Honourable Darrell Dexter, Premier of Nova Scotia, today signed a landmark agreement that will protect Sable Island as a national park reserve of Canada.
“Today’s historic agreement will ensure that this iconic and valued Canadian landscape fabled for its wild horses, shipwrecks and one of the largest dune systems in Eastern Canada, will be protected as a national park reserve for the benefit of Canadians for all time,” said Minister Kent.
“Fifty years of conservation efforts culminate today with the Harper Government’s signing of this agreement to designate Sable Island as a national park reserve,” said Minister MacKay. “For half a century Nova Scotians, as well as Canadians across the country, have voiced their support for protecting this iconic landscape and its wild horses, and no higher level of protection can be bestowed on this famed island than to make it a national park reserve.”
“Sable Island holds a special place in the hearts of Nova Scotians, and Canadians across the country,” said Premier Darrell Dexter. “We are pleased that the island's natural and cultural values will be forever protected through its status as a national park reserve. This agreement means that the province will continue to have a voice in the management of Sable Island, a place of amazing beauty and nature.”
In signing today’s agreement, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia have agreed to take the necessary steps to protect Sable Island under the Canada National Parks Act and to prohibit drilling from the surface of Sable Island and out to one nautical mile. To give effect to the prohibition on drilling, government and the offshore regulator are working with industry to amend significant discovery licenses.
“We support this initiative and we are working collaboratively with all parties who are striving to set up a practical system to protect this unique piece of the Nova Scotia environment while recognizing the importance of petroleum activities,” said Mike Honderich, Sable Operations Superintendent for ExxonMobil Canada, the interest representative for the relevant Significant Discovery Licenses.
Located 290 kilometres offshore from Halifax, Sable Island is a windswept crescent-shaped sandbar 42 kilometres long that emerges from the Atlantic Ocean near the edge of the Continental Shelf. The island’s sand dunes and fresh water ponds are home to over 400 wild horses and numerous migrant and breeding birds, including the rare Ipswich Savannah sparrow. Called the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”, there were over 350 shipwrecks recorded here since 1583 due to the fog and storms that set siege to Sable Island.
Establishing a national park reserve on Sable Island is a key action towards the Government of Canada’s commitment in its 2011 Speech from the Throne to create significant new protected areas.
For additional information on the project, please see the accompanying backgrounders at www.parkscanada.gc.ca.