Passamaquoddy Tribe & Harbor Porpoise essay

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These gunboats would devastate wildlife area and other immense and indefinite environmental impact. These tankers would carry liquefied natural gas or LNG in cruising through Head Harbor Passage. It would take at least 90 minutes for each tanker, the size of Queen Mary, to cross the passage of whale and porpoise feeding areas, breeding grounds and nurseries as well as aquaculture sites and fishing grounds (Figart).

Legal Battle

The Passamaquoddy people and their ancestors have, for thousands of years, lived, fished, hunted and cultivated land in the Quoddy region (Harvey, 2004). They have thrived on marine species for survival. But over 200 years of permanent European settlement in the region since the late 18th century introduced environmental predators and developers. With the passing of the years, they increased and became more and more efficient (Harvey). In response to the situation, the United Nations Environment developed the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based activities or GPA in 1995 (Horsley & Witten, 1998). GPA elicits action from UN member-states to preserve and protect the marine environment both on regional, national and international levels in attaining the international goal of "sustainable seas." A1998 workshop among member-States identified the impacts of contaminants in the Gulf of Maine with the end-view of eliminating or reducing these. The workshop found that contaminants collected through point-source discharges but knowledge about these was still new. The areas and consequences of pollution on the ecosystem were little known. It found obvious signs of the effects of pollution. But there remained a lack of understanding of collective, cumulative, and synergistic effects of food chains, environmental variability and contaminant effects simultaneously. Chemical contaminants were most concentrated close to the shore in industrialized or heavily urbanized areas and in waste disposal areas. These were the spawning habitats for important commercial fishes. Fish species in early stages are most vulnerable to toxic substances. The contaminants were identified as sewage, persistent organic pollutants, radioactive substances, heavy metals, hydrocarbon oils, nutrients, sediment mobilization and litter (Horsley and Witten).

LNG Proposals Opposed by Tribes, Federal Assurances

Two proposals for Quoddy Bay liquefied natural gas or LNG ports were opposed by the Passamaquoddy community in writing to the Prime Minister Paul Martin in September 2005 (ENS, 2009). The tribesmen urged him to help serve their Canadian interests in protecting the Passamaquoddy Bay and all Canadian citizens in the area by opposing the proposals. For his part, the U.S. Coast Guard assured the natives that it would assess and assure safety and security associated with LNG tankers crossing the Passamquoddy Bay, which separates Maine and New Brunswick. The proposals would build a new terminal in Robbinston town in the U.S.-Canada border and a new terminal on the Passamaquoddy tribal reservation a Pleasant Point. The U.S. Coast Guard assured that these structures would be "state-of-the-art" and environmentally safe. Those behind the projects would work very closely with local officials, a Port Safety Forum, and the Area Maritime Security Committee in evaluating the proposals. Coast Guard Captain Stephen Garrity also said they would also elicit comments from the public in the U.S. And Canada to insure that the full range of associated issues would be considered (ENS).

Federal regulators also stated that mitigation measures would make sure that these projects would have "less-than-significant" environmental impacts in the involved areas

(Trotter, 2009). Among these mitigation measures were the use of forward-watching whale spotters on the LNG tankers, tree and vegetation buffers on the route and shore of Passamaquoddy Bay, neutral color for LNG storage tanks to reduce visibility, and night-sky friendly lighting. Downeast LNG, one of the three developer-proponents, wanted to build a larger terminal at the Passamaquoddy tribal land at Pleasant Point than the one in Robbinston town. The third proponent, Calais LNG, would like to build another on the St. Croix River in Calais (Trotter).

$100,000 for the Fight against LNG Projects

Veterans Affairs Minister for New Brunswick Greg Thompson announced the provision of $100,000 to fuel the fight against the proposed LNG development in Passamaquoddy Bay (Rayner, 2008). He said that the federal government considered Head Harbor Passage internal Canadian waters and that his government would use all diplomatic means to stand on this position. He believed that the three proponents -- Quoddy Bay LNG, Downeast LNG, and Calais LNG -- were too late to succeed in the marketplace. They did not seem to be concerned about Canada's position not to allow tankers to cross Harbor Passage. Turning these proponents could cost $600,000 and Canada pinned its hope on Ottawa to take the definite step not to allow tanker vessels into the Bay. That step could stop the proponents on the track (Rayner).

Ministers Say "Nay,"

Veterans Affairs Minister Thompson, Defense Minister Peter MacKay and newly-appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Bernier expressed their solid position aainst the passage of LNG tankers in Passamaquoddy Bay (Rayner, 2007). Canada's ambassador to the U.S. Michael Wilson also stated the position to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Rayner).

Increased Demand for Natural Gas vs. Ecological and Economic Damage

Underlying the LNG proposals was the increased demand for natural gas (Kelly, 2005). It has become a necessary to New England's energy requirements for heating homes and electricity. Public energy officials and industry experts foresaw a rise in demand beyond domestic supply. The region would need new sources of fuel by the end of this decade, especially for peak winter months. Liquid natural gas from overseas would be one of the most viable responses to increasing supply. It is also cleaner than other fossil fuels and produces fewer green house gas emissions. Project opponents, however, argued that the risks of ecological, personal and economic damage outweighed the benefits of LNG. Area residents and thousands joined anti-LNG rallies and signed petitions addressed to the U.S. And Canadian federal governments (Kelly). One of these petitions was from, Hugh Akagi, the elected chief of the Passamaquoddy people in Canada to the NGO Committee of the United Nations International Decade of World's Indigenous Peoples.

The Future of Porpoise Hunt

A conspiracy of the highest order existed in every level of the Canadian

government to deprive the Passamaquoddy people rightful access to their resources and their land and the destruction of traditional fishery (Akagi, 2002). An Indian against Indian strategy was used to destroy the Passamaquoddy's traditional fishery. The conspirators brought in paid and corrupt individuals from native communities to fish, using non-traditional licenses. Government departments have re-defined "conservation" in order to deprive the natives' access to their rights. They were prohibited from harvesting their traditional harbor porpoise for "conservation" purposes because the animal was an endangered species. Yet they allowed those who kill thousands of porpoises for giving them large catches. The Passamaquoddies harvest only a few in order to keep their tradition alive. These government departments also use "conservation" as a tool to deny the tribes access to the fishery and not to protect the species. A Supreme Court previously allowed the natives first access to harbor porpoises. But this has been ignored (Akagi).

The government uses a trash-and-burn policy to do these and avoid compensating the native people by legislating them "out of existence (Akagi, 2002)." The Passamaquoddies

are deprived of political recognition, not only by the Canadian government, but also by the Supreme Court of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations and other governments, including the U.S. government. Surely, a government who is heavily driven by commercial and industrial interests is not in a just position to determine who is an Indian in Canada and who is not. The Passamaquoddies seems to deal with a mentality, which intends to exterminate the race or tribe, but calls it a denial of recognition. Despite this, the Passamaquoddies will continue to practice their culture and defend their rights (Akagi).#


Akagi, H.M. (2002). Appeal to the UN. NGO Committee of the United Nations

International Decade of World's Indigenous Peoples: Retrieved on December 19, 2009 from's_appeal_to_the_un.htm

CEC (1998). Impact of contaminants on the resources of the Gulf of Maine. A Global

Programme of Action Coalition for the Gulf of Maine. Commission for Environmental Cooperation: Horsley & Witten, Inc. Retrieved on December 20,

2009 from

ENS (2006). U.S. coast guard to assess Passamaquoddy Bay for LNG tankers. ENS

Newswire: Environment News Service. Retrieved on December 19, 2009 from

Figart, F. (2008). Turning tides. The International Ecotourism Society: Digital Traveler

e-Newsletter. Retrieved on December 20, 2009 from

Harvey, J. (2004). The Quoddy region, outer bay of Fundy: a marine oasis in decline.

Conservation Council of New Brunswick. Elements Environmental Magazine: New

Brunswick Environmental Network. Retrieved on December 23, 2009 from

Horsley and Witten, Inc. (1998). Impact of contaminants on the resources of the Gulf

Maine. Global Programme of Action Coalition for the Gulf of Maine: Commission

for Environmental Cooperation. Retrieved on December 23, 2009 from

Kelly, M (2005). Despite rejections, LNG…[continue]

Cite This Essay:

"Passamaquoddy Tribe & Harbor Porpoise" (2009, December 27) Retrieved October 21, 2016, from

"Passamaquoddy Tribe & Harbor Porpoise" 27 December 2009. Web.21 October. 2016. <>

"Passamaquoddy Tribe & Harbor Porpoise", 27 December 2009, Accessed.21 October. 2016,

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