Government of Canada supports important coastal environmental research on Canada’s Arctic coasts

News release

August 14, 2019

Iqaluit, Nunavut — Canada’s Arctic waters are essential to the livelihoods, identity and natural heritage of countless Inuit communities.

Protecting our coasts and marine habitats for future generations calls for long-term coastal environmental baseline data, which will allow us to identify changes in coastal ecosystems and the long-term impacts of fishing, shipping, oil exploration and development, and other human activities.

To help achieve these important goals, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, on behalf of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced today funding of more than $430,000 for two marine environmental data collection projects in Frobisher Bay, near Iqaluit.

These research initiatives are part of the $50.8 million Coastal Environmental Baseline Program, which involves close collaboration between Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientists, Indigenous and coastal communities, nongovernmental organizations, academia and other research partners. Participants are gathering wide-ranging scientific data to identify long-term changes in Canada’s coastal environment.

The funding will support projects by the Government of Nunavut and SmartICE, which will help create a clearer picture of the coastal ecosystems and environmental conditions around Iqaluit. The data gathered from these initiatives are vital to improving our understanding of nearshore environments and potential human impacts on these sensitive areas while strengthening our ability to track baseline ecosystem status and to direct our efforts to protect coastal species and habitats into the future.

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“Supporting a strong and secure North is undeniably at the core of our Canadian identity. And, we know that Canada’s Arctic coastal communities are among the first to feel the effects of climate change. That is why this investment in further research by expanding the Coastal Environmental Baseline Program in Nunavut is so critical to better understanding the impacts of a changing climate, and what needs to be done to protect these shores, and the livelihood of Northern communities. To ensure the success of this initiative, we are engaging in close collaboration with Inuit communities, the Government of Nunavut and other Northern partners.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“We know how sensitive our marine ecosystem is, particularly in the North, like here along the coast surrounding Iqaluit. By investing in science and research now, in collaboration with Inuit partners, we’re integrating leading-edge data collection techniques and technology with traditional knowledge of the Northern environment to obtain  insights into the state of the Arctic coastal environment, helping to conserve and restore this unique ecosystem and enabling resiliency in the face of a rapidly changing climate.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport and Member of Parliament for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, Quebec

Quick facts

  • The two baseline projects aim to characterize the current state of the marine ecosystem and the coastal environment in Frobisher Bay and other areas around Iqaluit by:

    • using multiple survey and sampling methods to establish a baseline for biophysical features of the local marine environment, including estimates of density and biomass of renewable marine resources;
    • investigating contaminant levels in seaweed harvested by Inuit; and
    • working with the Amaruq Hunters and Trappers Association to monitor Iqaluit community ice to characterize environmental integrity, situational awareness and ecosystems, while supporting evidence-based decision-making.
  • The Coastal Environmental Baseline Program, part of Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan, is helping to collect wide-ranging scientific data in six marine ecosystems with high vessel traffic and coastline development: the Port of Vancouver, BC; the Port of Prince Rupert, BC; the Lower St. Lawrence Estuary, QC; the Port of Saint John, NB; Placentia Bay, NL; and Iqaluit, NU.

  • This new investment complements funding for a Coastal Environmental Baseline Program project led by the University of Waterloo in Iqaluit (announced on August 2) and two other baseline projects led by the University of Manitoba in Iqaluit (announced on August 9).

  • The Coastal Environmental Baseline Program is one of many actions the Government of Canada is taking to safeguard our coasts and waterways under the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan. This national plan will establish a world-leading marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while ensuring our coastlines are healthier, safer and better protected for future generations.

Associated links


Jocelyn Lubczuk
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans
and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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