Parks Canada

Parks Canada

December 08, 2009 14:06 ET

Government of Canada Takes Steps to Protect Lancaster Sound in Canada's North

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 8, 2009) - The Honourable Jim Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada and the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Federal Minister of Health, today announced the beginning of a $5 million feasibility study as part of the creation of a new national marine conservation area in Lancaster Sound, at the eastern entrance of the Northwest Passage.

"As global climate change continues and traffic through the Northwest Passage is expected to increase, our government is committed to safeguarding Canada's Arctic and protecting its most special natural features," said Minister Prentice. "The Government of Canada recognizes the increasing importance of understanding and protecting the Arctic and this project will allow us to significantly advance our knowledge as well as our protection and conservation activities in this area."

"Lancaster Sound is an area of incredible beauty that is teeming with wildlife," said Minister Aglukkaq. "Protecting this Northern Canadian marine area would be a legacy for the people of Nunavut and indeed all Canadians."

Dramatic cliffs and spectacular fjords provide the backdrop to Lancaster Sound. This area is one of the richest marine mammal areas in the world: during the summer months most of the world's narwhal, a third of North America's belugas, large numbers of the Eastern Arctic's bowhead whales, as well as ringed seals, harp seals and walrus are found in these waters. Lancaster Sound also harbours one of the highest densities of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic and about one-third of Eastern Canada's colonial seabirds breed and feed here, including several hundred thousand pairs of thick-billed murres, black-legged kittiwakes and northern fulmars.

Parks Canada will lead the study in close collaboration with the Government of Nunavut, Qikiqtani Inuit Association, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., and local communities, along with other federal departments.

"Community involvement will be an integral part of this feasibility study," said Government of Nunavut Environment Minister Daniel Shewchuk. "We want to hear what Nunavummiut have to say."

"Lancaster Sound is a very important ecosystem that supports a wide variety of animal species in the High Arctic. It is an important migration route for many marine mammals and birds," said George Eckalook, the acting president of the QIA. "The adequate protection of this fragile environment has been our objective for a long time and we would welcome the work towards the establishment of the National Marine Conservation Area."

"This step in creating a new national marine conservation area in one of the richest ecological areas in Canada's North is yet another achievement in what has been a terrific year for Canadians and their natural heritage," added Minister Prentice. "Earlier this year we permanently protected through legislation a massive expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve, one of the world's first World Heritage Sites. This was arguably the greatest conservation achievement in a generation and a gift to the world. Not to be outdone, we also permanently protected Saoyu and AEehdacho National Historic Site of Canada on the shores of Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories; an area encompassing 5,000 square kilometres of Aboriginal cultural landscape that is of tremendous importance to the Sahtu First Nations and of national historic significance to all Canadians."

Today's announcement supports the Government of Canada's integrated Northern Strategy and Health of the Oceans Strategy to protect our environmental heritage.

Also available on the Internet at www.pc.gc.ca under Media Room.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Frederic Baril
    Press Secretary
    819-997-1441
    or
    Parks Canada
    National Corporate Communications Branch
    Media Relations
    819-994-3023