Overview of How the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) Science Advice Was Addressed in the Draft and Final Regional Assessment Reports Prepared by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada

  • The Regional Assessment of offshore oil and gas exploratory drilling east of Newfoundland and Labrador was initiated by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) in partnership with the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, Natural Resources Canada and the NL Department of Natural Resources, under an Agreement signed between the Ministers responsible in March 2019.
  • A 5-member Committee was appointed by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to complete the assessment, which was comprised of two key components:
    1. A Regional Assessment Report, and
    2. An associated Geographic Information System (GIS) application, which contains information and mapping in support of the assessment.
  • The Committee released its Draft Report for public review in January 2020, which was subsequently finalized and submitted to the Ministers on February 29, 2020. A Draft GIS application was also subject to a public review period and finalized on May 31, 2020.
  • Federal expert departments and agencies, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and others were key participants in the Regional Assessment, and provided information / datasets, analysis, advice and review functions. For DFO, this involved providing information and advice related to its areas of expertise and mandate, including marine fish and fish habitat, marine mammals and sea turtles, special areas and fisheries.
  • As part of this on-going involvement, the Committee requested that DFO undertake a review of early drafts of several components of the Regional Assessment (GIS modules). This request triggered a Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) review process that concluded in late November 2019.
  • Based on the review provided by DFO in late 2019, substantial additions and revisions were made to these initial draft Regional Assessment sections. This process also involved ongoing collaboration between the Committee and DFO staff in early 2020.
  • The additions and modifications made in response to DFO's scientific input were included and reflected in the Draft Regional Assessment materials that were released for public review in January and February 2020, and in the Final Report and GIS application submitted by the Committee to Ministers.
  • The input from DFO, including the CSAS report, has helped to enhance the robustness and utility of the Regional Assessment.
  • The Government of Canada has indicated its acceptance of and support for the Regional Assessment process and its objectives, outcomes and use in decision-making regarding future exploratory drilling activities in the Study Area. This is reflected and elaborated on in the June 2020 whole of Government Response to the Committee's Report and in the associated Ministerial Regulation which came into force on June 4, 2020.
  • The federal government's response to the Committee's report also indicates that IAAC, DFO and other parties will continue to work together to update and build upon the Regional Assessment information and analysis into the future, as new science and data become available.
  • This includes commitments made by these and other government departments to complete further research and analysis and to incorporate new information as it becomes available into future updates of the Regional Assessment.

Document reference number: 257

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