Coastal Environmental Baseline Program projects in Iqaluit, Nunavut

Description Timeframe Funding amount

Baseline mercury levels in Frobisher Bay fish and invertebrates

Funding recipient: University of Waterloo

Project summary: The project involves measuring concentrations of total mercury and methyl mercury in bivalves (e.g. clams); other benthic invertebrates (e.g. starfish and barnacles); Arctic Cod and other forage fish species (e.g., Four-Horned and Arctic Sculpin); and anadromous Arctic Char. Mercury contamination is an ongoing threat to the health of Arctic ecosystems and food sources for Northern inhabitants. Measuring total mercury and methyl mercury concentrations will help to identify pathways of dietary mercury exposure to Arctic Char. The data will also help to characterize the current state of the coastal ecosystem of Iqaluit, providing standards against which future changes may be assessed. This initiative will also contribute to the capacity-building of key parties in and around Iqaluit to collect environmental data as part of the implementation of the Oceans Protection Plan.

3 years

$107,800

Water quality in Iqaluit coastal marine ecosystems

Funding recipient: University of Manitoba

Project summary: This project will focus on collecting data on status and trends in water properties and subsistence species (e.g. fish and bivalves) in Frobisher Bay and surrounding areas of Iqaluit. The study will investigate the occurrence of the following contaminants: pharmaceuticals, personal care products, fluorinated compounds, nutrients, microbes (e.g. E. coli and antibiotic-resistant gene-bearing organisms) and microplastics. Subsistence species will also be sampled to determine their uptake and body burden of specific contaminants. The project will also contribute to the capacity-building of key parties to collect environmental data as part of the implementation of the Oceans Protection Plan.

3 years

$170,500

Characterization of sediment in relation to ecosystem services and contaminants in Frobisher Bay, Iqaluit

Funding recipient: University of Manitoba

Project summary: This study will characterize the sediments of Inner Frobisher Bay in relation to important ecosystem functions. It will provide baseline data on contaminants in shellfish harvested by Inuit. Coastal environmental baseline data will be collected with emphasis on characterizing sedimentary and benthic habitat, associated ecosystem processes in Inner Frobisher Bay and contaminant levels in shellfish, water and sediment. By working in partnership with the Inuit community, the project will also contribute to capacity-building as part of the Oceans Protection Plan.

2 years

$191,620

Inshore multispecies resource assessments and coastal environmental baseline study in Inner Frobisher Bay, Iqaluit

Funding recipient: Government of Nunavut

Project summary: This project will use multiple survey and sampling methods to establish baseline for biophysical features of the local marine environment. It will provide estimates of density and biomass of renewable marine resources, including species currently harvested for local consumption. An analysis of heavy metal contaminants in edible macroalgae (seaweed) will also be undertaken. By working in partnership with Indigenous community members, including youth, the project will also contribute to capacity-building as part of the Oceans Protection Plan.

2 years $220,442

Empowering the Amaruq Hunters and Trappers Association to monitor Iqaluit community ice

Funding recipient: SmartICE Sea Ice Monitoring and Information, Inc.

Project summary: This project will enable the collection of coastal environmental baseline data to characterize the current state of the marine ecosystem of Frobisher Bay, Iqaluit. It will also contribute to the capacity building of the Amaruq Hunters and Trappers Association to collect environmental data as part of the implementation of the Oceans Protection Plan. The results of the study will be available as open source baseline data to characterize environmental integrity, situational awareness and ecosystems, while supporting evidence-based decision-making (e.g. assessments for marine spatial planning in relation to conservation and cumulative environmental effects).

2 years $211,554

Diversity of pelagic primary producers in coastal habitats and the potential for harmful blooms in the Eastern Canadian Arctic, with a focus on Iqaluit

Funding recipient: Université du Québec à Rimouski

Project summary: This project will enable the collection of coastal baseline biodiversity data on phytoplankton to characterize the current state of the nearshore ecosystem in Koojesse Inlet (Iqaluit) and surrounding areas of Frobisher Bay. Data collected will contribute to the creation of a larger, comprehensive database on the current and historical distribution of phytoplankton in the Canadian Arctic. This database will help in determining the status (native, invasive or new to the region) and the possible origin of new phytoplankton species in Frobisher Bay. Such information can be used to survey, detect and mitigate introductions of new or harmful phytoplankton species in the region and in future ports with high shipping activity. The project will also contribute to the capacity building of Inuit to collect phytoplankton data as part of the implementation of the Oceans Protection Plan.

3 years $360,581

Ringed seal health: tracking trends in a changing world

Funding recipient: University of Prince Edward Island

Project summary: The project will involve collecting important baseline information on animal health parameters, specifically that of ringed seals – a species of critical social, cultural and economic importance to many Northern communities. These parameters will include both environmental contaminants and pathogens found in Northern wildlife that could be significant to public health. This information will be gathered in partnership with members of the Inuit community in Iqaluit while documenting traditional Inuit knowledge regarding ringed seals and their health. The project will form the basis of a Master of Science program being undertaken at the University of Prince Edward Island by a young Inuk woman from Iqaluit.

2 years $66,750
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