A Nova Scotia coalition is calling on the government to ban oil and gas exploration and development permanently on Georges Bank, the seafood-rich area of Atlantic Ocean south of Yarmouth.
Premier Darrell Dexter has agreed to hear the group's case for a permanent moratorium, said Denny Morrow, chair of the NoRigs 3 Coalition.
"It is the only area in the North Atlantic where we've had a major recovery of the ground fish stock," he said. "It's rich in biodiversity, it's very productive in scallops … whales are out there, sea birds. It's just the richest area in the Canadian North Atlantic, and it should be protected."
In May, the Nova Scotia and federal governments said they would extended a temporary moratorium on oil and gas exploration for an extra three years. The ban was set to expire at the end of 2012, but will now last until Dec. 31, 2015.
Morrow said recent environmental disasters around the world have raised the levels of concern for the area.
"In view of a huge blowout in the Timor Sea off the coast of Australia last August, and then the Deep Water Horizon — then we had the pipeline spill that polluted the Kalamazoo River — there is just too much concern."
Morrow said his coalition consists of aboriginal communities, fishermen and fish processors, and environmental groups like the Ecology Action Centre, all of which agree there should be a ban.
Morrow and other members of No Rigs say they have arranged a meeting with Dexter in early September to discuss the issue.