VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – Environmental groups have challenged the Canadian government decision to allow a U.S. research vessel to conduct seismic testing in a protected marine area. The environmentalists say the blasts at the Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents Marine Protected Area will harass and hurt endangered blue whales and threatened fin whales.
The Living Oceans Society and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society sued the Ministers of Fisheries and Oceans and Foreign Affairs in Federal Court.
The ministries allowed Columbia University’s research vessel Marcus Langseth to conduct seismic testing at the hydrothermal vents 155 miles off the coast of Washington and Vancouver Island.
The testing was to begin on Aug. 14 but has been delayed until after another court hearing set for Aug. 21.
The environmentalists say the ministries can’t grant permission to a foreign vessel to conduct research that may threaten the survival of at-risk species without meeting certain criteria, which Canada’s own Department of Fisheries and Oceans found the testing failed to do.
“DFO scientists reviewed information about the proposed seismic testing,” the complaint states. “DFO scientists concluded that there are other reasonable alternatives to the activity that would better reduce the impact on marine mammals, and that the proposed seismic testing did not take all feasible measures to minimize the impact on marine mammals.”
The groups are represented by Lara Tessaro.