Protection for Arctic Wildlife Sanctuaries Announced

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OTTAWA, ON — August 22, 2008 — Canada’s Environment Minister John Baird, and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. Acting President, James Eetoolook, today announced the establishment of three new National Wildlife Areas on and around Baffin Island, protecting local species and habitat including the bowhead whale.

The Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries in the Nunavut Settlement Area, was negotiated between the Government of Canada, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., three Regional Inuit Associations and the Nangmautaq Hunters and Trappers organization. The agreement allows for the creation of three new National Wildlife Areas on and around Baffin Island to protect local species and habitat. Under the agreement, Canada’s Government is committing $8.3 million.

“Prime Minister Harper and our Government are delivering real results that will benefit not only our environment in the Arctic, but the people who live there,” said Minister Baird. “This is a real demonstration of our commitment to protect our species and their incredible habitat in the North.”

The Niginganiq (nee geen ga nik) National Wildlife Area (Isabella Bay) is internationally recognized for providing key bowhead whale habitat, and the Akpait (ak pa eet) and Qaqulluit (ka koo loo eet) National Wildlife Areas near Qikiqtarjuaq (kick-ih-TAR-jew-ack) (Broughton Island) are known for housing significant populations of seabirds including one of Canada’s largest Thick-billed Murre colonies and Canada’s largest colony of Northern Fulmars. These areas also provide habitat for a number of marine animals including walruses, seals and polar bears.

“The establishment of new National Wildlife Areas around Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq will increase the ecotourism value of the region,” says Minister Chuck Strahl, Canada’s Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. “This will provide economic opportunities and enable residents to develop environmentally sustainable tourism businesses and create jobs.”

“Inuit began negotiations for the three National Wildlife Areas in addition to the two already established, and eight Migratory Bird Sanctuaries in Nunavut in 2001. Today’s historic signing with Minister Baird brings that work, along with the efforts to create the Niginganiq Wildlife Area, an internationally recognized bowhead whale sanctuary near Clyde River, to an end, and makes our years of struggles worthwhile. This is a big day for Inuit,” said Eetoolook. “The funding that comes along with this agreement will result in long-lasting economic benefits for Inuit in the affected areas.”

“Protecting the bowhead whales of Niginganiq has been a 26 year marathon effort”, said Mike Russill, CEO of WWF-Canada. “We are grateful to the people of Clyde River for their patience and persistence, and we thank the Government of Canada and Minister Baird for their dedication and commitment in pushing this finally over the finish line”.

The federal Government is firmly committed to the protection, improvement and conservation of our country’s natural legacy. Environment Canada works in collaboration with other federal departments, provinces and territories, Aboriginal organizations, non-governmental organizations and the public to preserve Canada’s environment and conserve its precious natural heritage for present and future generations.


Related Documents:

Three New National Wildlife Areas Protect Key Habitat in Nunavut [2008-08-22, Backgrounder]

Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement [2008-08-22, Backgrounder]

For more information contact:

Environment Canada
Media Relations
(819) 934-8008

Chris Day
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of the Environment
(819) 997-1441
Cell: (613) 286-6064

Kerry McCluskey
Director of Communications
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
(867) 975-4914

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