Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

February 27, 2012 11:28 ET

Government of Canada, Inuvialuit Game Council, and Inuvialuit Regional Corporation Announce the Achievement of a Milestone for the Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 27, 2012) - The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, announced today an important milestone under the Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment (BREA). Seventeen new research projects have been initiated that will address community priorities and assist regulators in making decisions for offshore oil and gas activities.

"The Government of Canada is committed to sustainable economic development that ensures the protection and preservation of sensitive Northern ecosystems as part of its Northern Strategy," said Minister Duncan. "The Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment is a positive example of how Canada, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, Inuvialuit communities, regulators and industry are working together to identify regional priorities in advance of oil and gas activities in the Beaufort Sea. The knowledge gained from this research will be invaluable in future activities."

"This announcement reflects the Government of Canada's commitment to working in partnership with stakeholders to ensure sustainable economic development in Canada's North while still safe-guarding the environment," said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

The BREA was announced in August 2010 and was established to develop a knowledge base of scientific and socio-economic information to inform regulatory decisions in the Beaufort Sea. The Government of Canada is providing $21.8 million over four years to support this initiative.

"The Inuvialuit Game Council (IGC) was pleased to hear the announcement of funding for the BREA last year," stated Frank Pokiak, Chair of the Inuvialuit Game Council. "The Council saw the need to increase the preparedness of government and industry for development in the offshore Beaufort Sea back in 2004 when it wrote to the Minister. The IGC continued to push to implement the recommendations when that process was completed. The BREA now represents a vehicle to address some of these recommendations. The BREA projects will look at a number of different issues of importance to the IGC, such as sea birds, polar bears in the far offshore areas, spill trajectory modeling and research trawling to help collect information on the biodiversity of the Beaufort Sea."

Government, Inuvialuit, academia and industry stakeholders collaboratively identified the research priorities. The projects will provide new information and include traditional knowledge on priority issues in the Beaufort Sea, including deep water fish populations, coastal and marine birds, seabed hazards assessment, distribution and thickness of sea ice, as well as modeling and forecasting of ocean and ice conditions. The information generated will provide new regional information and assist regulators and Inuvialuit communities in understanding the Beaufort Sea environment as it relates to offshore oil and gas exploration and development.

"The BREA will provide critical baseline information to Inuvialuit, industry and government for consultations on a comprehensive management approach to the Beaufort Sea ecosystem," said Nellie Cournoyea, Chair/CEO, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. "As we consider drilling in the Arctic Offshore, this body of knowledge will contribute to informed decision making for a sustainable ocean, communities and economies for the benefit of current and future generations."

Research projects will be carried out until 2015. In addition, six working groups have been formed to address key topics in the region, such as cumulative effects and oil spill preparedness and response.

For more information on the Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment and for project descriptions, please visit www.aandc-aadnc.gc.ca.

Backgrounder: Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment (BREA)

MAP: BREA Coverage

This release is also available on the Internet at www.aandc.gc.ca.

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Contact Information

  • Minister's Office
    Jan O'Driscoll
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Honourable John Duncan
    819-997-0002

    Media Relations
    Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
    819-953-1160