CPAWS welcomes legislation for Sable Island National Park, but oil and gas allowances worrisome

HALIFAX – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) welcomes today’s announcement that the federal government has introduced legislation in the Senate to formally protect Sable Island National Park Reserve under the Canada National Parks Act.

“Sable Island is a national treasure,” says Jennifer Smith, Outreach Coordinator for CPAWS Nova Scotia. “We’re pleased that we’ve reached the final stage of providing long term legal protection for this iconic wilderness.”

Located 160km off the eastern coast of Nova Scotia, Sable Island is a sandy, windswept island, famous for its population of wild horses. The island is also home to several species at risk including the roseate tern, is the only known breeding location in the world for the Ipswich Savannah Sparrow, has the largest breeding population of grey seals in the world, and boasts the largest dunes in eastern North America.

The newly introduced legislation permanently prohibits oil and gas drilling on the surface of Sable Island and for one nautical mile offshore; however, CPAWS is concerned that the legislation will allow low-impact oil and gas exploration inside the park, as well as horizontal drilling under the island from outside its boundaries.

“In our view, it’s unacceptable to allow oil and gas exploration inside a national park,” says Smith. “Even low-impact activities can be detrimental to such a sensitive ecosystem, and we need to take all necessary precautions to ensure that the ecological integrity of the island is the management priority.”

To ensure that conservation remains the top priority for the management of the island, CPAWS continues to advocate for developing off-site visitor experiences, limits to visitor numbers, continued scientific research on the island, and restrictions on oil and gas development.

CPAWS, the Sable Island Green Horse Society, and the Ecology Action Centre have been working together as a coalition since 2010 to ensure adequate protection measures for this treasured place.


For more information, contact:
Jennifer Smith
Outreach Coordinator
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – Nova Scotia Chapter