US fishermen's wives join anti-oil demos

01 Jul 2010

Across the US last weekend, people lined beaches and joined hands in a display to oppose oil drilling off America's coasts.

Two large demonstrations were in Gloucester.

The Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association coordinated the local portion of the ‘Hands Across the Sand’ protest, with Cape Ann residents and visitors alike being encouraged to join hands and "create a human line in the sand" against offshore drilling, according to a statement from Fishermen's Wives president Angela Sanfilippo.

The Gloucester demonstrations were planned for both Good Harbor and Pavilion beaches.

The fight against offshore drilling is hardly a new one for the Fishermen's Wives Association. Sanfilippo noted that, 32 years ago, the Gloucester-based group took an active role in fighting the potential for offshore drilling on Georges Bank, which remains among the richest fishing grounds in the world.

While the human and economic tragedy still unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of April's BP oil leak is a prime impetus, Sanfilippo said her organisation's effort Saturday is to reiterate the need to permanently protect Georges Bank.

President Obama has said he has no plans to allow any offshore drilling north of New Jersey, and Canadian officials have said they, too, will retain protections for Georges Bank, an egg-shaped offshore area that essentially runs from Nova Scotia to beyond the tip of Cape Cod.

But Sanfilippo said the Fishermen's Wives want to ensure those protections remain over the long haul. "Today, more than ever," she said in a prepared statement, "the organisation wants to see Georges Bank fishing grounds protected until the end of time. A moratorium forever, basically."

Sanfilippo added in a phone interview: "Even with all the hard work we put in through the 1980s, (protecting Georges Bank) still depends on whoever is in charge.

"We want something in legislation that no one can touch," she added, noting that Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey has a bill now before Congress that would do precisely that.

The  ‘Hands Across the Sand’ movement — which supports clean energy exploration in addition to opposing more offshore oil drilling, started four months ago in Florida, with thousands of Floridians from 60 towns and cities joining hands across 90 beaches to protest the Florida Legislature's efforts to lift the ban on oil drilling off the coast of Florida.

[Source: Gloucester Daily Times]

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