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Humpback whale protections downgrade clears way for pipeline

Published on Apr 23, 2014 5:55 AM
 
The Haisla community of Kitimaat Village is seen from the waters of the Kitimat Arm of the Douglas Channel, in northern British Columbia near to where Enbridge Inc plans to build its Northern Gateway pipeline terminal facility April 13, 2014.  Environmentalist activists on Tuesday decried Canada's downgrading of humpback whale protections, suggesting the decision was fast-tracked to clear a major hurdle to constructing the Northern Gateway pipeline. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

OTTAWA (AFP) - Environmentalist activists on Tuesday decried Canada's downgrading of humpback whale protections, suggesting the decision was fast-tracked to clear a major hurdle to constructing a pipeline to the Pacific Ocean.

The government however denied it is playing pipeline politics with the whales.

Ottawa announced over the weekend the reclassification of humpback whales as a "species of special concern" rather than "threatened." As a result, the humpback's "critical habitat" off Canada's west coast will no longer be legally protected, states a federal government notice published in the Canada Gazette.

Jay Ritchlin of the David Suzuki Foundation told AFP that the decision was taken "incredibly fast." "That it is happening right at the same time that a major development (the Northern Gateway pipeline) is being proposed is a reasonable concern," he added.

 
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