Sable Island

Code of Practice For Sable Island – ExxonMobil Canada Properties (EMCP)


EMCP has developed, as part of its environmental protection planning, this Code of Practice to protect the uniqueness and integrity of Sable Island in particular species-at-risk. This Code is not a regulatory requirement and is indicative of EMCP’s environmental stewardship philosophy and corporate policies. The intent of the Code of Practice is to provide clarity to all personnel working on EMCP–related projects/activities that may interact with Sable Island.

Sable Island 1

Ecological Importance

Sable Island is approximately 41 km in length and is located 290 km east of Halifax. The Island is composed of sand and is the only emergent portion of the Sable Island Bank. It supports a fragile ecosystem consisting of diverse flora and fauna; the best known components being the feral horses, seal populations, the rare Ipswich sparrow, and the endangered Roseate tern.

Sable Island 3

Regulatory Context

Sable Island access and activities are managed by Parks Canada and it has been designated a National Park under the Canada National Parks Act. It is also protected under Environment Canada regulations, specifically the Migratory Birds Convention Act.  The federal Fisheries Act administered by the Fisheries and Oceans Canada covers management of seal populations on Sable Island. The Species-at-Risk Act deals with protection and recovery of plant and animal species-at-risk including species with relevance to Sable Island.


This Code of Practice addresses the following:

  • Vessel routing in the vicinity of the Island;
  • Aircraft flights near and over Sable Island;
  • Project activities on the Island; and,
  • Environmental awareness training

Sable Island 2 (edited)



  • Personnel are NOT to disembark on Sable Island, fly over Sable Island, or approach within 1 kilometre of Sable Island unless required to do so in a life-threatening emergency or for access as part of an approved Environmental Monitoring Program or for special trips approved by the Canadian Coast Guard and EMCP senior management.
  • In all cases, personnel are to follow this Code of Practice and comply with all applicable guidelines.
  • EMCP will include discussion of this Code of Practice in its environmental awareness training program for its personnel and facilitate orientation for its visitors to the island by the resident biologist (Z. Lucas) on Sable Island.
  • EMCP intends that this Code is a ‘living document’ and as such, will review and update it as required.


Photos courtesy of Zoe Lucas, Sable Island Green Horse Society Website –