Government of Canada and Nunatsiavut Government working together to protect Northern Labrador Coast
From: Parks Canada
Feasibility assessment launched for establishment of Indigenous Protected Area under Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act adjacent to Torngat Mountains National Park
September 6, 2019 Nain, Newfoundland and Labrador Parks Canada Agency
Northern Labrador has been an area of continuous human use and settlement for nearly 10,000 years. Labrador Inuit have been the stewards of this region since time immemorial and they continue to practice their traditions on its lands and waters.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, and the President of Nunatsiavut, Johannes Lampe, announced the launch of a feasibility assessment to consider the establishment of an Indigenous protected area under the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act, which would be adjacent to Torngat Mountains National Park in northern Labrador.
The proposed study area is approximately 15,000 square kilometres, which is three times the size of Prince Edward Island, and would connect protected lands with protected waters, conserving the fjords that extend into Torngat Mountains National Park which are so critical to the many species that thrive in this region. Enhancing the protection of these ecosystems in northern Labrador would not only help to conserve biodiversity, it would contribute to the vitality of Inuit culture and traditions and the well-being of Inuit communities.
This initiative results from the vision of the 2017 Statement of Intent on Imappivut (or “Our Waters”) for the waters offshore of the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area, and is a tangible step toward protecting the waters and the wildlife in the area, now and for future generations. The establishment of a national marine conservation area as an Indigenous protected area would enable the Government of Canada and Inuit to work in partnership to protect the natural and cultural values of the Labrador Shelf marine region and this portion of the marine waters covered by the Labrador Inuit and Nunavik Inuit land claim agreements.
Parks Canada is responsible for protecting nationally significant places of Canada’s natural heritage and sharing their stories, including the history, cultures, and contributions of Indigenous peoples, with Canadians and the world.
“Our government is doubling the amount of land and oceans protected from coast to coast. That’s why we continue to work with Indigenous peoples, the provinces and territories, and other key partners to protect nature and the wildlife that depend on it. We are working with the Nunatsiavut Government to protect the northern Labrador Coast and connect Torngat Mountains National Park with this important and fragile ocean ecosystem, while also supporting traditional ways of life for Inuit. And we also look forward to collaborating with the Makivik Corporation and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador on this initiative.”
The Honourable Catherine McKenna,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“Sea ice is part of who we are as a people. It’s a part of our culture and way of life. In fact, many Nunatsiavumiut sometimes refer to themselves as Sikumuit, which in English means people of the sea ice. We are pleased to work with the Government of Canada to protect and conserve vital marine areas off our coast.”
President of Nunatsiavut
- Under the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Parks Canada Agency Act, Parliament mandated Parks Canada to establish a system of national marine conservation areas to protect and conserve representative examples of each of Canada’s 29 unique marine regions. The proposed study area is located offshore Northern Labrador, adjacent to Torngat Mountains National Park and represents the Labrador Shelf Marine Region.
- Northern Labrador is home to the cold offshore Labrador Current, which is famous for carrying a steady stream of icebergs to lower latitudes and mixing with the Gulf Current off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.
- The study area represents a transition between Arctic and Atlantic habitats and communities ranging from highly scenic fjords to long beaches and mudflats. The area encompasses a variety of marine mammal species and important concentrations of breeding and migrating seabirds and waterfowl.
- Torngat Mountains National Park covers 9,700 square kilometres between Northern Québec and the Labrador Sea, protecting approximately 330 species of vascular plants (including ferns and flowering plants) and 220 species of mosses and liverworts.
- Extensive consultations with local communities and stakeholders including the fishing industry, along with careful consideration of the social, environmental and economic benefits and impacts of establishing a national marine conservation area, will play an important part in the feasibility assessment. Should an Indigenous protected area be deemed feasible, an Impacts and Benefits Agreement would be negotiated, in accordance with the provisions of the Labrador Inuit and Nunavik Inuit land claims.
- As partners, the Government of Canada and the Nunatsiavut Government look forward to collaborating with Makivik and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in conducting the feasibility assessment.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Parks Canada Agency
Director of Communications, Nunatsiavut Government