Building Better Natural Resource Stewardship in the North

November 2008

Nunavut Settlement Area

The area within the Nunavut Settlement Area covers over 1.9 million square kilometres of land.

After nearly two years of negotiations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Environment Canada, Parks Canada and the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board have reached a landmark memorandum of understanding. This agreement spells out all of the required steps for working through the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) listing process in a collaborative, responsible way in the Nunavut Settlement Area of Canada’s Arctic.

"It sets out how we can work together, and that's going to be really important in terms of building a better, collaborative sort of stewardship of natural resources in the North," said John Davis, who was then Special Advisor to the Deputy Minister on SARA. Davis served as a driving force behind this agreement, working with the other parties to find common ground to make the SARA listing process agreeable to everyone at the table.

"Now that all of the parties have come to an understanding, we have a framework that lays out who needs to do what, and when they need to do it," said Ray Ratynski, Division Manager of the Species at Risk Program for DFO’s Central and Arctic Region.

Reaching this understanding in the Nunavut Settlement Area is a big step, as the area covers over 1.9 million square kilometres of land and contains about 43 per cent of Canada’s ocean coastline.

This enormous area is not only home to many of Canada’s Inuit, but is also home to populations of fish and marine mammals, including the narwhal, beluga and bowhead whales, seals and walruses, as well as arctic char, turbot and shrimp.

"It took a lot of work from all of the parties involved to get to a point where we have something that is representative of everyone’s position and something that everyone can agree to," said Ratynski. "We hope that the effort we’ve put into this agreement can be of benefit to others as well. Maybe this framework can be used as a model to harmonize SARA requirements with the requirements of other land claims agreements."