Since early 2018, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) and the Government of Canada have been negotiating an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement (IIBA) for Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area. The parties have now reached an Agreement in Principle (AIP).
In scope, Tallurutiup Imanga would be the biggest protected area in Canada once established, covering approximately 109,000 square kilometres. Tallurutiup Imanga would serve the Government of Canada’s target of protecting 10 per cent of its marine and coastal areas by 2020.
Upon reaching the AIP, signatories for the parties, P.J. Akeeagok, president, Qikiqtani Inuit Association; Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada; and Jonathan Wilkinson Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, released a statement.
“On October 30, 2018, an Agreement in Principle was reached, outlining key elements of the future Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area, which includes a new collaborative Government of Canada-Inuit governance model and an Inuit advisory body for Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area,” reads the statement from the parties. “In addition, the parties agreed to consider options to pursue the creation of marine conservation areas north of Grise Fiord in the High Arctic Basin or Tuvaijuittuq (which means “the ice never melts” in Inuktitut).”
The AIP has recognized the value of Inuit knowledge and determined the leardership role Inuit will play in managing Tallurutiop Imanga. Also agreed upon were:
- The preamble and principles of the IIBA;
- A collaborative governance model; and
- A community advisory body.
Through the negotiations, QIA sought “dedicated investments in Inuit cultural practices such as traditional harvesting, Inuit employment, and infrastructure development.” As a result, QIA and the Government of Canada are undertaking feasibility studies for marine infrastructure in four of the five communities around Tallurutiup Imanga. The parties are also working to determine the possible implementation of multi-use infrastructure for safe access to land and sea in the context of accelerated environmental changes.
“The Government of Canada and QIA are committed to establishing Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area and will continue discussions regarding the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement, with the goal of completing negotiations by April 2019,” reads the parties’ statement. “All parties are committed to providing updates to the local communities, stakeholders, and all Canadians as other milestones regarding the establishment of the national marine conservation area are reached.”
More details on the Tallurutip Imanga NMCA can be found on the Government of Canada’s website.