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Feasibility Assessment for the Proposed Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area

Introduction

Lancaster Sound Feasibility Assessment

The feasibility assessment for the proposed Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area will take between two and three years. Over the course of the study, the public will have several opportunities to provide their points of view on the subject.

At the conclusion of the study, the Governments of Canada and Nunavut and Inuit organisations will consider the recommendations on whether a national marine conservation area (NMCA) is practical and desirable. They will then decide on whether to proceed to the next step – negotiation of any necessary agreements needed for the establishment of the NMCA, including an Inuit Impact and Benefits Agreement. The feasibility assessment is a important step in the establishment process.

Background

There are 29 marine regions in the Parks Canada’s National Marine Conservation Areas system plan. Parks Canada's goal is to represent each of these distinct marine regions with a national marine conservation area. Nine of the marine regions are found in the Arctic, including the Lancaster Sound region.

In December 2009, the Government of Canada, the Government of Nunavut and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association signed a memorandum of understanding that committed them to assess the feasibility of a national marine conservation area in the Lancaster Sound area. The study area is representative of the Lancaster Sound Region. More information on this announcement

Belugas
Belugas
©Parks Canada / W. Lynch

Map illustrating the nine marine regions in Canada’s Arctic Ocean
Map illustrating the nine marine regions in Canada’s Arctic Ocean.
©Parks Canada / Wayne Roach

Characteristics of the Lancaster Sound Marine Region

The Lancaster Sound NMCA proposal is considered important not only in the context of the marine region but for the Arctic in general. 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. It is also visually stunning, dramatic cliffs and spectacular fjords providing the backdrop for Lancaster Sound.

More detailed information Lancaster Sound Marine Region on the is found in the National Marine Conservation Areas System Plan.