Lancaster Sound: Protecting coastal regions in the Canadian north

by madibaileey on November 10, 2017 - 5:02pm

Madison Bailey, Blog Post #2

Boundaries Set for Lancaster Sound, Nunavut, Canada's largest area of protected ocean

This article outlines the details of Lancaster Sound which covers about 110,000 square kilometers of ocean. It represents about 2% of Canada's coastal marine waters. The Lancaster Sound is located at the eastern entrance of the Northwest Passage and protecting this land has been in the works for decades. The area is a crucial hunting ground for Inuit, who have been advocating for conservation since the 1960's.  The article explains that since boundaries have now been set, management decisions will be based on traditional Inuit knowledge. Five Inuit communities are within the boundaries of the protection area, and an Inuit Impact Benefit Agreement is expected to be negotiated in the coming months. Along with the local communities, other actors involved in this process are the federal government, the government of Nunavut, as well as the Qikiqtani Inuit Association. The Lancaster Sound area is rich in biodiversity, because of the shape, it creates a microclimate which can host a multitude of different species year round, as well as support migratory animals as well.


Overall, I think that this is a huge opportunity to protect precious resources and conserve important habitats.  The techniques used in creating the conservation area avoided some of the different types of conflict we talked about in class. It addressed behavioural and value conflict by including the local Inuit people in the decision making process, as well as allowing them to contribute traditional knowledge to the management strategies that will be used.  By doing so, the government is not only gaining consent from the Inuit peoples, they are giving them the opportunity to benefit and prosper on their land, while also preserving their resources. They are able to regulate the land use amongst the five Inuit communities within the conservation land using an Inuit Benefit Agreement. Thereby allowing the local parties to benefit from the conservation of the marine area. This is also a prime example of co-management. By giving the power to the local Inuit people to maintain and manage the land, they are devolving power away from the state. On top of that, there are some elements of adaptive co-management, which as mentioned in class, is also a tool for repairing broken or untrustworthy relationships. Which considering the relationship between the Canadian government and the indigenous people of Canada, they seem to be attempting to mend their previous relations. The federal government, the government of Nunavut as well as the Qikiqtani Inuit Association made sure to remove all oil and gas exploration in the area. Shell Canada also contributed to the marine conservation area by voluntarily relinquishing 30 oil and gas explorations sites.

Some challenges that Lancaster Sound may face, is the impact that local shipping routes have on the area. It was mentioned in the article that WWF-Canada would like to see reduced shipping routes in the area, it was not expanded upon or mentioned that it would actually happen. The legislation and actors surrounding Lancaster Sound have sought to create an area free of external impacts like mining, and extracting oil, however did not discuss the shipping routes that surround the area. Since there are many routes that cut through the Canadian North, there could be a multitude of impacts, like oil spills, emissions and destruction of habitats which could push wildlife out of the area. Other than that aspect of the article, they covered and removed a lot of environmental impacts so that they can more effectively manage the area. All things considered, I think that this will be a really effective way to protect key aquatic environments and coastal regions in Canada.