Akpait National Wildlife Area

Akpait National Wildlife Area (NWA), in Nunavut, supports seabirds and marine wildlife. It has one of the largest populations of thick-billed murres in Canada.


Akpait (the Inuktitut word for "murres") NWA was designated in 2010. The NWA has a raised mass of land called a promontory that overlooks Akpait Fiord. The NWA is located:

  • about 130 kilometres (km) southeast of Qikiqtarjuaq (formerly Broughton Island)
  • about 37 km northeast of Cape Dyer
  • on the northeastern tip of the Cumberland Peninsula of Baffin Island
Photo of Akpait NWA.
Akpait NWA. Photo: Garry Donaldson

The NWA has a large marine portion. The land portion has:

  • steep cliffs that rise to 915 meters above sea level
  • a complex series of steep rock pinnacles and ridges
  • a high talus slope and beach that borders the steep rock

The Akpait NWA contains key marine habitat supporting many seabirds. This includes one of Canada's largest thick-billed murre colonies. At around 133,000 pairs, the NWA has about 10% of the Canadian population.

Photo of thick-billed murre at Akpait NWA.
Thick-billed murre at Akpait NWA. Photo: Garry Donaldson

Some species that breed at the NWA include:

  • northern fulmars (about 20,000 breeding sites estimated so far)
  • glaucous gulls
  • black guillemots

 Some species that nest at the NWA include:

  • black-legged kittiwakes (about 1,200 pairs)
  • Atlantic puffins (observed on occasion)

The marine portion of the NWA is often visited by:

  • polar bears
  • walruses
  • several seal species

More information on Akpait NWA is provided in the summary table below.


Under the Canada Wildlife Act, NWAs are protected and managed in accordance with the Wildlife Area Regulations. The primary purpose of NWAs is to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitat. For this purpose and according to the legislation, all activities in a NWA that could interfere with the conservation of wildlife can be prohibited. Consequently, most NWAs are not accessible to the public and all activities are prohibited. However, some activities may be authorized through public notice or the issuance of permits as long as they are consistent with the management plan goals for the NWA. For more information, consult the NWAs Management and Activities section.

In the Nunavut territory, Nunavut beneficiaries, as per the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA), can harvest wildlife for their economic, social and cultural needs (Article 5 of the NLCA). This includes collecting migratory bird eggs and feathers.

Akpait NWA is managed by partnerships with:

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada.
  • Sululiit Area Co-management Committee (ACMC) of Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut.

This partnership is per the NLCA and Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for conservation areas.

Access to Akpait NWA is restricted except for Nunavut beneficiaries. For all non-beneficiaries, a permit must be obtained to either access or conduct any type of activity in the NWA . Activities that may be permitted will be in accordance with the conservation objectives of the NWA management plan (currently in development).

More information on access and permitting can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.

Map of the area

Map, see long description below.
Long description of the map

Map showing an area in the Davis Strait and Baffin Island in Nunavut. The boundaries of Akpait NWA are indicated. The NWA covers a portion of the northeastern edge of the Cumberland Peninsula on Baffin Island and extends out into the Davis Strait. The scale on the map is in kilometers. Permanent water is indicated. A small inset national map situates the NWA in Canada.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries.

Summary table

Summary table
Category Information
Protected Area designation NWA
Province/territory Nunavut
Latitude/longitude 66°56' North / 61°46' West
Size 79,146 ha
Reason for creation of protected area Contains at least 10% of Canadian breeding population of Thick-billed Murres.
Date created (Gazetted) 2010 - Legal Description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Wilderness Area (Ib)
Additional designations
Keystone or flagship species Thick-billed murre
Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Polar bear (Special Concern)
Main habitat types
  • Mostly marine
  • A land portion (steep rock pinnacles and ridges bordered by a high talus slope and beach)
Faunistic and floristic importance Key marine habitat supporting numerous seabirds
Invasive species None
Additionnal links Birds: Mammals: walrus
Main threats and challenges An increase of:
Management Agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usage Nunavut beneficiaries and people with appropriate permits only.

Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page and any notice posted at the NWA site, the notice prevails. It is the legal instrument authorizing the activity.

Contact us

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Prairie Northern Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Directorate
P. O. Box 1870
Iqaluit NU X0A 0H0

Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca

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