The groups say the exploration jeopardizes more than 4,000 species including blue whale, salmon and cod.
Ecojustice lawyers, on behalf of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (SNAP Québec), Attention FragÎles, Nature Québec, David Suzuki Foundation and Sierra Club Canada Foundation, say they filed a lawsuit in response to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board’s decision to reissue an exploration licence to Corridor Resources Inc.
Corridor’s licence was first issued in 2008.
But the environmental groups say a nine-year cap prohibited further extensions and should have expired last January.
The board replaced Corridor’s old licence on Jan. 15.
“The government should be following its own rules, not making unusual exceptions for oil companies that put communities and ecosystems in harm’s way,” said Ian Miron, Ecojustice lawyer said in a news release.
“For seven years, the St. Lawrence Coalition has fought to stave off exploration on the Old Harry prospect and is asking for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in all of the Gulf of St. Lawrence” said Sylvain Archambault of SNAP Québec.
"Coastal communities depend on the health of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, said Gretchen Fitzgerald of Sierra Club Canada Foundation.