New Arctic protections agreed by Canadian government and Inuit community

Canada’s largest national marine conservation area is to be created to protect a large, biodiverse area of Arctic water

The Canadian government and Inuit group the Qikiqtani Inuit Association have reached an agreement to create a new marine conservation area in Arctic waters.

Located predominantly in Lancaster Sound (known as Tallurutiup Imanga by Inuit people) in northern Canada, the reserve will cover more than 50,500 square miles of ocean and will more than double the total area of Canada’s marine protected waters.

The area is one of the most ecologically sensitive regions of the Canadian Arctic and provides habitat for narwhal, beluga and bowhead whales, seals, walruses and polar bears.

“These waters have supported the lives of Inuit since time immemorial,” said P.J. Akeeagok, president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, which represents 14,000 Inuit, including communities that border the new reserve.

“For almost five decades, Inuit have strived to ensure these incredible resources continue to provide our traditional way of life and our survival.”

The new protections will ban mineral extraction, but allow shipping to continue. Although the protection boundary has been agreed upon, an enforcement date is yet to be announced.

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