Ottawa signs deal with Labrador Inuit to co-manage large marine protected area | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Ottawa signs deal with Labrador Inuit to co-manage large marine protected area

September 29, 2017 - 11:26 AM

NAIN, N.L. - Ottawa and the Nunatsiavut Inuit government have formed a partnership to protect and manage the waters around northern Labrador.

A marine management plan will be developed to protect a stretch of coastline that is longer than the state of California and is home to the highest concentration of polar bears in the world.

Parks Canada says the "Imappivut" initiative will create co-management of marine protected areas and "recognize and respect Labrador Inuit rights and interests."

Darryl Shiwak, minister of lands and natural development in Nunatsiavut, a self-governing Inuit regional government, said it's important that the Inuit people will help develop the plan.

"From our perspective this plan, when it's developed, will be a plan of the people, of the communities who use the waters. This plan will come directly from them. It will be what they want in the plan and the plan will reflect that," he said.

The statement of intent signed Friday will explore new solutions, such as Indigenous Protected Areas to maintain healthy oceans and coastal communities.

"It's not a legally binding document but it signifies that we'll work together to get this done," Shiwak said.

"We've always had a vision about how we'd like those waters managed and now we have an opportunity with Canada coming out with their target of protecting 10 per cent of its waters by 2020, and have an opportunity to be part of that," he said.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the partnership will protect the area from the impacts of climate change, but also strengthen the local economy through environmental stewardship, training and employment.

The waters around Labrador support a diverse array of birds, fish and whales.

"The Imappivut initiative is about recognizing Labrador Inuit connection, knowledge and rights to our ocean," said Johannes Lampe, president of the Nunatsiavut Government.

"It is about respecting our history and current needs by partnering with the Government of Canada to develop a management plan that ultimately improves the lives of those who depend on the water and the ecosystem itself."

The final marine management plan could protect an area of more than 380,000 square kilometres, but the exact coverage still needs to be negotiated.

Shiwak said with the potential for greater oil and gas exploration in the north in the coming years, it's important to have a plan now that will protect the environment, the Inuit way of life, and their commercial fishery.

"As the north opens up, we sense there will be more ship traffic in the area potentially. We want to have a say in how that is managed," he said.

— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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