Akpait National Wildlife Area

Akpait National Wildlife Area (NWA) is located off the east coast of Baffin Island on the northeastern tip of the Cumberland Peninsula, in Nunavut. Totalling 792 km2, the NWA protects key terrestrial and marine habitat for colonial seabirds and marine mammals.


Akpait NWA was designated in 2010 to protect some of the largest seabird colonies in Canada, including an estimated 130,000 pairs of thick-billed murres. Akpait is the Inuktitut work for “murres”. The terrestrial portion of the NWA comprises a raised mass of land with cliffs reaching 915 meter high that overlooks Akpait Fiord, often referred to as “The Minarets”. The marine waters within the NWA boundaries provide essential feeding grounds for nesting colonial seabirds and for a variety of marine mammals during their migration. Qikiqtarjuaq (formerly know as Broughton Island), is the closest Inuit community situated approximately 130 km northwest of the NWA. 

Image of Akpait NWA habitat
Akpait NWA. Photo: Garry Donaldson

Other interesting facts about Akpait NWA:

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

Find more information on Akpait NWA 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 wildlife 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 other activities are prohibited in all NWAs. However, some activities may be authorized through Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations or the issuance of permits as long as they are consistent with the management plan goals for the NWA. For more information, consult the NWA Management and Activities section.

Akpait is managed by the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Inuit from Qikiqtarjuaq, NU as part of a co-management agreement established through the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries in the Nunavut Settlement Area (IIBA). The Sululiit Area Co-Management Committee (ACMC) was formed through the IIBA and advice on all aspects of NWA management and all significant policy decisions affecting the NWA, including Inuit use of the NWA, permit applications, research conducted within the NWA, visitor use of the area, and management and protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat.

In Nunavut, Nunavut Inuit, as per the Nunavut Agreement (NA), can hunt wildlife, including the collection of migratory bird eggs and feathers for their economic, social and cultural needs (Section 5 of the NA). Access to Akpait NWA by anyone other than Inuit enrolled under the NA is restricted; therefore, any non-Nunavut Inuit must obtain a permit to access or conduct any activity within the Akpait 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 for Akpait NWA can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.

Map of the area

Map, see long description below.
Map of Akpait NWA
Long description

This map shows an area of Baffin Island and the Davis Strait in Nunavut. The boundaries of the Akpait National Wildlife Area 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’s location in Canada.

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

Summary table

Summary table of Akpait NWA
Category Information
Protected Area designation National Wildlife Area
Province/territory Nunavut
Latitude/longitude 66°56' North / 61°46' West
Size Total: 79,200 ha:
  • Marine: 74,400 ha
  • Terrestrial: 4,800 ha
Reason for creation of protected area Contains at least:
  • 8% of Canadian breeding population of Thick-billed Murres
  • 9% of Canadian breeding population of Northern Fulmars
  • 1% of Canadian population of Black-legged Kittiwakes
Date created (Gazetted) 2010 - Legal description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Wilderness Area (Ib)
Additional designations
  • International Biological Programme Site (Region 7, Site 7-9)
  • Reid Bay Important Bird Area (IBA - NU072)
  • Akpait (Reid Bay) Key Marine Habitat Site (NU Site 21) & Key Terrestrial Habitat Site (NU Site 28)
Keystone or flagship species Thick-billed murre
Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Polar bear
Main habitat types
  • Mostly marine
  • Land portion comprised of  steep rock pinnacles and ridges bordered by a high talus slope and beach
Invasive species None
Other species Other birds:

Terrestrial mammals: 

Marine mammals:

Management Considerations An increase of:
  • Commercial fisheries
  • Other protected area initiatives
  • Military activity
  • Mineral/hydrocarbon exploration
  • Research
  • Tourism
  • Shipping/marine transport
  • Climate change
Management Agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usage Nunavut Inuit have a free and unrestricted right of access for the purpose of harvesting to all lands, waters, and marine areas within the NWA, as per Article 5 of the IIBA and subject to s.5.7.18 of the Nunavut Agreement.

For all non-Nunavut Inuit, a permit must be obtained to access or conduct any type of activity in the NWA.

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

Contact us

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Northern Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
933 Mivvik Street, 3rd Floor
P. O. Box 1870
Iqaluit Nunavut
X0A 0H0

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

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