Georges Bank is a large submarine platform located at the edge of the Atlantic continental shelf between Cape Cod and Nova Scotia. The Georges Bank Prohibition Area covers a significant portion of Georges Bank and is located on the Canadian side of the Canada-United States maritime boundary. The Bank is a large, relatively shallow, biologically diverse, and productive area hosting many commercially fished species.
In 1988, the Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia placed a moratorium on all petroleum exploration and development activities on the Canadian portion of Georges Bank and certain adjacent areas. The moratorium was subsequently extended to 2012 following an independent panel review in 1999. The moratorium remained in place until 2015 when Governments passed legislation to extend the moratorium on oil and gas exploration and drilling to December 31, 2022.
The Georges Bank Prohibition Area is addressed in S. 141 of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and S. 134AA of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation (Nova Scotia) Act.
As described in these Acts, the Federal and Provincial Ministers may jointly issue a written notice to extend the prohibition for a period of no more than 10 years after completing a “review of the environmental and socio-economic impact of exploration and drilling activities in that portion of the offshore area described in Schedule IV (i.e., Georges Bank Prohibition Area) and any other relevant factor[s]”. The science and socio-economic report completed in December 2021 will provide the basis for that review, to be undertaken in 2022.
Sam Salley, Stantec Consulting Ltd