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Canada’s newest and largest marine protected area: Tallurutiup Imanga

Partner story

Photo: © Anne Henshaw

The Tallurutiup Imanga (Lancaster Sound) area of North Canada has provided the Inuit people with food, clothing and shelter since time immemorial. The breathtakingly beautiful Arctic landscape is also home to a vibrant ecosystem of marine life, including 75 per cent of the global population of narwhals (an unusual looking “tusked” whale) and 33 per cent of Canada’s seabirds. It is also the habitat for Canada’s largest density of polar bears. [1]

Since the 1970s the Inuit have been fighting for the protection and recognition of Tallurutiup Imanga and on 14 August 2017, the Canadian Government, the Nunavut Government and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association signed a landmark agreement to establish new and expanded boundaries for the Tallurutiup Imanga a National Marine Conservation Area. “Today is a very significant day for Inuit as well as for the world,” said P.J. Akeeagok, the president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.

The protected area now covers 131,000 square kilometres, puts an end to oil and gas development, mining and waste disposal in the ocean, provides a safe place for wildlife and will help safeguard and revive cultures and traditions of the Inuit people. The establishment of the Tallurutiup Imanga area also marks a substantial advancement towards the Canadian Government’s pledge to protect five per cent of marine areas by 2017.

For Oak Foundation Marine Conservation programme officer, Anne Henshaw, the agreement and establishment of the Tallurutiup Imanga ”is significant because of the substantial involvement and participation of Inuit in its creation.” Some of the aims of Oak’s Environment Programme include promoting sustainable development; contributing to the integrity of marine ecosystems; and enhancing the wellbeing of coastal and indigenous communities. Through its Marine Conservation Programme, it supports organisations in the Arctic championing these ideals.

An Oak grant to Pew Charitable Trusts and its Oceans North campaign has been instrumental in supporting this development.

[1] Wong, M, “Canada’s Newest and Largest Marine Protected Area”, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, 2017.