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Lack of oxygen in Gulf of St. Lawrence needs emergency action, says activist

An environmental activist in Merigomish, N.S., believes House of Commons Speaker Geoff Regan made a bad call when he turned down a request Tuesday morning to hold an emergency discussion on the environmental state of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The request was made by Green Leader Elizabeth May in response to a scientific study released in September that said the oxygen levels in the gulf are rapidly decreasing.

“Fish are like the rest of us, they cannot live without oxygen,” said Mary Gorman, founder of the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition.

“And if our Gulf of St. Lawrence waters are deoxygenating, this is an emergency matter.”

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, isn’t lightweight commentary.

It was funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Spain’s Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the European Research Council, and co-authored by researchers from universities such as the University of Washington, the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the University of Rhode Island, University of California and Dalhousie University.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Princeton University’s national oceanic and atmospheric laboratory were also involved.

The study cites temperature shifts in the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current as a reason for the deoxygenation as warmer water cannot hold as much oxygen.

May told the House of Commons on Tuesday there could be dire consequences if the issue isn’t addressed.

“The emergency is that the death of the Gulf of St. Lawrence is a disaster economically, ecologically and socially,” May was quoted as saying in Hansard.

“The terminus of the moment to save it could be as soon as four years from now which requires real action on an emergency basis.”

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