Government of Canada releases first report on the state of the marine ecosystems in the Canadian Arctic

News release

April 22, 2020

Ottawa, Ontario —The vast and beautiful Arctic Ocean is Canada’s largest ocean area. Steeped in tradition, it defines northern communities and cultures and is home to diverse and dynamic ecosystems. Today, the Arctic Ocean faces variable and changing conditions largely driven by global human-caused stressors, including climate change. Together with Inuit and Northern partners, the Government of Canada is working to better understand the Arctic Ocean, sea ice and the complex ecosystems they support.

Today, on Earth Day, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, released Canada’s Oceans Now: Arctic Ecosystems, 2019, the second status report of the annual ocean series. Canada’s State of the Ocean reports are summaries of the current status and trends of marine ecosystems in Canada’s three oceans. Today’s release provides useful educational content for students and all Canadians to read on Earth Day while at home.

The report was co-authored by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Government of Nunavut, and the Fisheries Joint Management Committee. It includes current knowledge and trends for Canadian Arctic marine ecosystems based on scientific findings and Inuit knowledge. It outlines observed sea ice-related ecosystem changes and provides new insight into varying environmental conditions and the connections between ocean and coastal areas.


“To protect and conserve the Arctic Ocean, we need to understand it, and that can only be done in full collaboration with Inuit and Northern partners who have a wealth of knowledge, experience and traditions to draw upon and gain new insight into the status of our Arctic Ocean. During these difficult times of social distancing, this report provides an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about the majestic beauty of our Arctic ecosystems and what we can all do to protect it. “

The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“We’re seeing the impact of climate change on our oceans already from loss of sea ice, increasing ocean temperatures, ocean acidification and shifts in species distributions. This report on Canada’s Arctic marine ecosystems is an important step in protecting the Arctic marine environment, our communities, and our culture.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“The Government of Nunavut is pleased to see this report include the contributions of Inuit. Through this work and our programs, Inuit knowledge is integrated into research and decision-making in the Canadian Arctic. This shows partnerships with Nunavut communities are necessary to address their concerns and prepare for the future.”

The Honourable David Akeeagok, Deputy Premier of Nunavut

“The Inuvialuit of Canada’s western Arctic have lived along the shores of the Beaufort Sea for generations and they are alarmed at the rapid changes that they are seeing in the ecosystems they depend upon. An important goal of their Comprehensive Land Settlement Agreement with Canada, the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (1984) is “to protect and preserve the Arctic wildlife, environment and biological productivity.” This report demonstrates how the traditional knowledge of the Inuvialuit, their observations of change in ice patterns, weather, movements and habits of fish and marine mammals and their understanding of the interconnections of the Arctic ecosystems can, in collaboration with western science, work towards achieving that goal. The Fisheries Joint Management Committee (FJMC), the Canada Inuvialuit co-management body that assists Canada to preserve and protect Arctic fish and marine mammals and their habitats participated in the preparation of the report. This is an important milestone that needs to lead to significant actions. The FJMC encourages all Canadians to take heed.”

Fisheries Joint Management Committee

“Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homeland in Canada, encompasses the entirety of Canada’s Arctic coastline, and our comprehensive land claims agreements are inclusive of large spans of ocean and ice. So the health of the Arctic Ocean is directly related to Inuit health and wellbeing. We look forward to advancing work with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the development of a new DFO Arctic Region which is inclusive of Inuit Nunangat and the Arctic Ocean, and welcome the release of this key report into the state of marine ecosystems.”

Natan Obed, President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

Quick facts

  • A report on the state of the Arctic Ocean will be released every four years. The national report on the state of all three of Canada’s oceans is expected to be released later in 2020.

  • The Canadian Arctic has the largest ocean area in the country and would cover 41% of Canada’s land area.

Associated links


Jane Deeks
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans
and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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