Tallurutiup Imanga, or Lancaster Sound, is located in the northeastern region of Nunavut. It is a large natural and cultural seascape that is one of the most significant ecological areas in the world. It is critical habitat for species such as the polar bear, bowhead whale, narwhal and beluga whale. For Inuit living in the region, called both Tallurutiup Imanga and Tallurutiup Tariunga by the Inuit, it is a place rich in culture and wildlife.

Tallurutiup Imanga is not yet a national marine conservation area (NMCA). The Government of Canada, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, and the Government of Nunavut have announced the proposed boundaries for the NMCA. The combined size of the proposed NMCA in Tallurutiup Imanga/Lancaster Sound along with Sirmilik National Park, Prince Leopold Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary, and Nirjutiqavvik National Wildlife Area, will total more than 131,000 square kilometres – more than twice the size of Canada’s largest protected area (the Queen Maud Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary). Together, the protected areas will span from the very top of Sirmilik’s glaciers to the depths of the ocean in Tallurutiup Imanga/Lancaster Sound.

Government of Canada NMCA boundary proposal for Lancaster Sound

Boundary proposal for Tallurutiup Imanga/Lancaster Sound

Protection of Tallurutiup Imanga/Lancaster Sound
Arctic inlet with mountains in background
© Francine Mercier

During consultations with Inuit communities, significant support was expressed for the protection of Tallurutiup Imanga/Lancaser Sound. The proposed NMCA would provide a number of ecological and social benefits, including:

  • conserving the rich biodiversity and maintaining ecological processes and life support systems of the Lancaster Sound marine ecosystem for the benefit of marine species, Nunavummiut and Canadians
  • establishing a collaborative relationship between Canada and Inuit that would guide current and future activities in Lancaster Sound to ensure the ecological and cultural viability of the area for future generations
  • protecting and conserving species at risk and their habitats
  • protecting the Inuit way of life and Inuit traditions through protection of the marine environment and marine wildlife food sources
  • allowing all activities within the NMCA, including fisheries and marine transportation activities, to be managed in a more ecologically holistic manner
  • protecting historical resources, such as shipwrecks and archaeological sites
  • providing opportunities for visitors to experience and appreciate this environment
  • encouraging ecological research and monitoring
  • providing a level of resilience to the fragile Arctic marine ecosystem facing climate change
  • encouraging ecologically sustainable economic opportunities in the region.

The proposed NMCA in Tallurutiup Imanga/Lancaster Sound more than doubles the area of Canada’s marine protected waters and contributes about 1.9 per cent of Canada’s total marine estate on an interim basis towards the Government of Canada’s commitment to protect five per cent of marine waters by 2017, a contribution that will only be formalized at the conclusion of an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement.