Petronas abandons its gas project on one of the most important wild salmon habitats in Canada.
Today, the international consortium behind Pacific Northwest LNG announced it was shelving its controversial gas export project in the Skeena River estuary.
Lelu Island and Flora Bank are safe, for now.
That is due largely to the tireless work over the last three years by local Skeena organizations and partners, and the support of global salmon advocates.
Petronas, the Malaysia national oil company and Pacific Northwest’s largest backer, today blamed market conditions – including the global glut of natural gas – for its decision.
That may be true. But local and international advocates made it very difficult for this project to proceed. They have been working through every available channel – scientific research, environmental reviews, legal challenges, even civil disobedience – to make one simple point: this is the worst possible location for a massive industrial development. The eelgrass bed at Flora Bank is perhaps the most important place in the Skeena for juvenile salmon, a crucial stopover used by populations from all over the Skeena on their way out to sea.
Today, those advocates and all their hard work have been vindicated. There’ll be no industrial development on Lelu Island and Flora Bank.
“The project was flawed from the beginning due to the lack of upfront consultations with affected Indigenous communities and by selecting the worst possible location for a project of this magnitude.” says Greg Knox, executive director of SkeenaWild.
He continued: “This fight has done one good thing – it has united far flung groups in the watershed and across the Pacific around the goal of protecting salmon. Without salmon, we lose the foundation of our ecological health, our local culture and our economy. We thank the Wild Salmon Center and The Stronghold Fund for standing with us in this important struggle.”
Through the Skeena Stronghold Partnership, Wild Salmon Center has stepped up our support for SkeenaWild and local First Nations over the last three years, providing technical, communications, and financial assistance for the Skeena estuary campaign. Our goal was to ensure that one of the Pacific’s great wild salmon and steelhead systems remained intact.
“Salmon and steelhead advocates around the world should celebrate this day,” says Guido Rahr, CEO of Wild Salmon Center. “It demonstrates the power of alliances between local communities and international partners focused on protecting the world’s great strongholds. Together, we will continue to work to keep the Skeena intact.”
The Skeena Stronghold Partnership will now shift its attention toward permanent protection of Lelu Island and Flora Bank. With the support of Wild Salmon Center, SkeenaWild and local partners will continue to legally challenge the federal environmental assessment permit given to Petronas and Pacific Northwest LNG to develop the area. Salmon advocates aim to have the permit revoked, to prevent future developers from building at the site.