Shell Canada gives up exploration rights to make way for protected area off Vancouver Island

The permits cover an offshore area more than one-and-a-half times the size of Vancouver Island.

Shell Canada Ltd. has given up it offshore exploration rights, clearing the way for the creation of Canada’s first protected marine area under the Canada Wildlife Act.

Shell voluntarily released about 50,000 square kilometres of permits in an area off northern Vancouver Island to allow for the creation of the Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area.

The permits cover an offshore area more than one-and-a-half times the size of Vancouver Island, and while Shell Canada president Michael Crothers says the cost to the company was a few million dollars, he’s hoping for “goodwill” in exchange.

The wildlife area was established in June, and conserves a vital marine area for millions of seabirds, fish and mammals on the Pacific coast.

Even as Shell continues to explore for oil and gas globally, Crothers says they have no plans to do so off coastal B.C., particularly since the west coast has been under an exploration moratorium since 1972.

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society welcomed the announcement, which comes after nearly 17 years of consultation with federal, provincial and First Nations governments.

Related: TNG’s injunction against Taseko drilling permit in Supreme Court Monday

Related: Company cleared to start exploratory drilling in B.C. First Nations title area

The Canadian Press

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