The Great Bear Rainforest is at risk from oil tanker traffic.

Tankers transporting crude oil or persistent oil to US and overseas markets frequently navigate the turbulent waters and rocky, narrow channels of the coast.

Diesel and oil spills have already happened.

But a major oil spill would be catastrophic.

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What You Need to Know

What’s Bill C-48?

Bill C-48 would prohibit oil tankers carrying more than 12,500 metric tons of crude or persistent oil along BC’s North Coast, replacing a voluntary ban in place since 1985.

What is Canada committing to through the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act (Bill C-48)?

This Act formalizes the current moratorium on oil tanker traffic along BC’s North Coast—from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaska border—establishing an administration and enforcement regime with financial penalties of up to $5-million for not complying with the ban.

Why are First Nations pushing for a ban?

First Nations have existed along the Pacific North Coast for more than 14,000 years. Healthy marine environments are economically, culturally and environmentally integral to the well-being of our coastal communities. Large oil tankers in these fragile coastal waters would pose an unacceptable risk to our people and their livelihoods.

What’s at Stake from an Oil Spill?

A major spill would:

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BC’s North Coast is an ecologically unique region that includes pristine coastal ecosystems and marine life found nowhere else on Earth. But it also has narrow, rocky channels and often treacherous waters due to frequent storms, plus large areas that may be hundreds of kilometres away from any spill-response services.

The voluntary ban has been in place since 1985; it’s time to formalize this moratorium.

Well-funded groups have proposed building more pipelines to carry increasing amounts of oil to the BC coast and from there onto tankers bound for international markets. This intense pressure from those who stand to profit could drastically increase the amount of oil (often in its raw and more toxic form of diluted bitumen) that passes through our waters—putting not only these fragile ecosystems at risk, but also our fisheries and livelihoods as well.

The ban would cover BC’s North and Central Coast, including the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound—a region that includes traditional territories of several coastal First Nations and spans 100,000 square kilometres from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaskan Panhandle.

First Nations have existed along the North Coast for thousands of years. Our culture and livelihoods are deeply intertwined with its forests, rivers and sea. These traditional waters sustain our peoples’ marine way of life, and the abundant supply of salmon, halibut, herring, oolichan, kelp, shellfish and other marine resources in these coastal ecosystems are the “breadbasket” for our communities.

Plus, iconic species such as Pacific coastal wolves and the rare white Spirit Bear are found only here. Grizzly bears, black bears, six million migratory birds and rare plant and animal species share these lands and waters with us.

All of this would be negatively affected by an oil spill. Everything in the rainforest is connected; a delicate balance between ocean, land, wildlife and people.

The Great Bear Rainforest is the largest and most intact coastal temperate rainforest on the planet. It is important nationally and globally, which is reflected in the agreements crafted by several governments and industry to protect the region through landmark land-use planning agreements.

In October 2016, the tugboat Nathan E. Stewart ran aground near Bella Bella in the traditional territory of the Heiltsuk First Nation. The barge was empty, but the tug still leaked diesel and engine lubricants into the waters that polluted critical marine habitats and harvesting sites. The effects of this spill are still being felt today: the commercial clam fishery has still not recovered, straining financial and human resources.

For more on the Nathan E. Stewart, check out this article in Hakai Magazine.

Make your voice heard.

This spring, Senators will decide whether to pass this oil tanker ban. Now is the time to act. Contact the following decision makers and call on them to support Bill C-48.

1. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6 | 1-613-992-4211

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2. Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Jonathan Wilkinson
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6 | 1 613 995-1225

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3. Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

Marc Garneau
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6 | 1-613-996-7267