Three reasons why tankers must not enter the Great Bear:
Deadly ship strikes – Tanker collisions with whales can cause their death or serious injury. The tanker routes of proposed oil and Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) projects plough straight through critical habitat of the threatened humpback whale, as well as important killer whale and fin whale habitats. With a potential 3,250 tanker journeys through the Great Bear Sea per year, these vulnerable mammals would run a daily risk of ship strikes.
Drowning in sound – Supertankers are the loudest marine vessels on Earth. The absence of bulk tanker traffic in the Great Bear Sea has meant that the quiet conditions essential to humpback whales have been preserved. These animals, once hunted to the brink of extinction, have begun to make a recovery in the Great Bear's peaceful waters, where low noise levels allow them to communicate and forage successfully. Thundering tankers could turn the tables on their recovery. Many other species, including threatened killer whale populations, will also suffer from increasing levels of industrial noise. Listen to our audio archives here.
Oil spill devastation – The biggest threat posed by tankers is that of a large oil spill. The oil tankers proposed for the Great Bear Sea would carry over two million barrels of oil each – equivalent to 127 Olympic swimming pools. Their planned journey along one of the world's most dangerous shipping routes would put colossal quantities of oil at an unacceptably high risk of spillage. Smaller leaks and spills and the introduction of invasive, exotic species also pose a threat to the waters of the Great Bear.
A 2013 study commissioned by B.C.'s provincial government found that in the event of a spill, only 3-4% of spilled oil could be recovered from the Great Bear Sea in the first five days. The bulk of it would be left to devastate marine life and habitat, affecting rivers, forests, livelihoods and human health.
In mid-April of 2015, 2,700 litres of bunker fuel leaked from a freighter into English Bay, serving as a wake-up call that agencies responsible for spill cleanup and coordination are ill-prepared for major oil spills on our coast. Memories are still raw from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill that sent more than 40 million litres of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound. More than 25 years later, the ecosystem and people of Prince William Sound are still recovering.
Learn More about these Energy Projects and why the majority of British Columbians oppose them.