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PM takes action to protect Arctic marine wilderness

Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area Will Conserve Beluga Whales and Unique Habitat

26 August 2010
Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories

 Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the Government of Canada is taking concrete action to protect one of the world’s largest seasonal populations of beluga whales by establishing the Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area.  He was accompanied by Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans; Nellie Cournoyea, Chair and CEO of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation; and Frank Pokiak, Chair of the Inuvialuit Game Council.

“As part of our integrated Northern Strategy, the Government is dedicated to protecting and conserving the magnificent environment and unique wildlife of Canada’s Arctic,” said Prime Minister Harper.  “The area we are setting aside is home to one of the world’s largest summering populations of beluga whales.  Today, we are ensuring these Arctic treasures are preserved for generations to come.”

The Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area will consist of three individual areas called Niaqunnaq, Okeevik, and Kittigaryuit, and covers approximately 1,800 square kilometres of the Mackenzie River Delta and estuary in the Beaufort Sea.  It is the first Marine Protected Area of its kind in the Canadian Arctic.  It will be a vital part of Canada’s expanding network of protected ocean regions.

The Marine Protected Area will also protect harvesting traditions central to the Inuvialuit culture in the communities of Aklavik, Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.  The Inuvialuit and the territorial governments of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories have been key partners and supporters in the development of the Area.

The designation of the Marine Protected Area is the result of a successful collaboration among the Inuvialuit people, private industry, local stakeholders and governments.  It will balance the cultural and economic aspirations of northerners, while advancing the Government’s environmental conservation plans.

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