Victory in Norway. Can we do it in Canada?

There are exceptional places on this planet that are so valuable we must do all we can to protect them. The only way to ensure that exceptional marine and coastal ecosystems are protected from the devastating damage that is the unmanageable consequence of a major oil spill is to avoid exposing them to the risk.
© Bård Løken / WWF-Norge
Yesterday we learned the exciting news that Norway’s new government will not open one such area to oil exploration.  Our WWF colleagues in Norway have long campaigned to protect their spectacular Lofoten Archipelago from exposure to oil contamination.  An oil spill in that special place could jeopardize the spawning area for the world’s largest cod stock, threaten the world’s largest cold water coral reef and the European mainland’s largest seabird colony.  Seventy per cent of Norway’s fisheries are dependent on the health of the area.
Norway’s decision marks a victory not just for conservation of the ecosystems we so rightly cherish.  Its also a victory for the commercial fish stocks that sustain Norway’s fishing industry.   In case you don’t know, our staff in Halifax have been working for years to rebuild Atlantic cod stocks . So this Norwegian victory is doubly sweet.
Finally, this is a victory for common sense.  The inestimable value of an extraordinary place has just been secured, demonstrating once again that wisdom can prevail over expediency.
Let us take a moment to savour the victory by remembering just how beautiful and how vulnerable the special places of this planet are and how fortunate we are to enjoy their bounty.

Aerial view of Great Bear Rainforest looking north over Foch-Gittoyess, British Columbia, Canada. © Andrew S. Wright  / WWF-Canada
Aerial view of Great Bear Rainforest looking north over Foch-Gittoyess, British Columbia.
© Andrew S. Wright / WWF-Canada

Much closer to home, the Great Bear Sea is another place of extraordinary biological richness and beauty. A place that supports vibrant cultures and a vital economy based on the sea.  Its future, however, is currently undecided.  Alongside many others, including the Coastal First Nations, WWF has worked for years to conserve this place.   But today, it is threatened by plans to ship diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands over hundreds of salmon streams and whale habitat.  We oppose the Northern Gateway Pipeline project because it would expose the Great Bear to unacceptable risks.  We look forward to a day when wisdom prevails here in Canada, protecting this very special place in our country, and on our planet.
Norway’s victory gives us hope and shows us what is possible.  The future of these unique places is in our hands.