Arctic Council applauds international convention on mercury

“The convention is a big step in making sure country foods remain safe to eat”

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

The Arctic Council says it welcomes a new international agreement on reducing mercury pollution.

More than 90 countries — including Canada — signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury in Japan last week, which establishes regulations for how the heavy metal is exploited and used in manufacturing.

The regulations are aimed at identifying, controlling and cleaning up mercury from numerous sources.

“The Convention is a significant step towards tackling the problem of mercury emissions worldwide,” said an Oct.11 statement by the Arctic Council.

The council has committed to an ongoing role in mercury monitoring and assessment activities.

The Canadian government took part in five intergovernmental sessions to negotiate the treaty, while the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada represented Inuit as part of the Canadian delegation.

The presence of mercury in the Arctic has become a concern for the people who live in it; all of the mercury in Inuit food sources comes from industrial activity outside Canada.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami called the convention “a big step in making sure country foods remain safe to eat.”

The agreement was signed Oct. 10 in the town of Minamata, Japan — a community that struggled with a devastating outbreak of acute mercury poisoning in the 1950s.

The convention is expected to come into effect in early 2016.

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