The Canadian government has stepped up to protect endangered Arctic animals by opening two large ocean sanctuaries spanning a total of 427,000 square kilometers (165,000 square miles).
To help animals threatened by global warming, Canada has set up the two marine sanctuaries in the Arctic Ocean.
According to National Geographic, the new sanctuaries will conserve 14 percent of Canada’s marine and coastal areas, exceeding the country’s target of sustaining 10 percent of these areas by 2020.
The preservation efforts come at a time when the Arctic is not only being melted by rising temperatures but is also suffering at the hands of ruthless human activities such as mining, drilling and fishing.
Tuvaijuittuq Marine Protected Area (MPA)
The Tuvaijuittuq Marine Protected Area will be the largest sanctuary built on the northern coast of Ellesmere Island in Nunavut place.
Tuvaijuittuq means ‘the place where the ice never melts’, and the region is one of the fewest on Earth where multilayer sea ice remains even during summer.
According to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada: “This remote region has the oldest and thickest sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. As sea ice continues to decline in the Arctic, the ice in this region is expected to last the longest. This makes the area a unique and potentially important future summer habitat for ice-dependent species, including walrus, seals and polar bears.”
Paul Okalik, senior adviser for Arctic conservation at WWF Canada, said: “This deal will turn Tuvaijuittuq into one of the world’s largest conservation areas while also supporting local food security, infrastructure and employment needs.
In a bid to preserve the area, no new human activities will be allowed to occur for up to five years barring a few exceptions, which include Inuit rights for wildlife harvesting, scientific research in line with the MPA’s conservation objectives, and activities related to safety, security and emergency response.
Speaking at a press conference in the Nunavut city of Iqaluit, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “Freezing any new human activities will help ensure the ice that never melts will remain true to its name.
The Tallurutiup Imanga region is located south of Ellesmere Island and safeguards about 108,000 square kilometers (42,000 square miles) of indigenous marine habitat. It shelters 75% of the global population of narwhals, 20% of Canada’s beluga population and the largest population of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic. It is also home to several species of seals, walruses, and bowhead whales.
Parks Canada declared: “It (Tallurutiup) is a large natural and cultural seascape that is one of the most significant ecological areas in the world. It is critical habitat for species such as the polar bear, bowhead whale, narwhal and beluga whale. For Inuit living in the region, called both Tallurutiup Imanga and Tallurutiup Tariunga by the Inuit, it is a place rich in culture and wildlife.”
P.J. Akeeagok, president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, said in a statement: “By protecting Tallurutiup Imanga, and seeking permanent protection for Tuvaijuittuq, we not only save these pristine Arctic ecosystems, but also lay the foundation for a conservation economy in sustainable industries such as fisheries.”
What do you think of Canada’s effort in protecting the Arctic ecosystem? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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