QIA says Nunavut land-use plan doesn’t go far enough to protect caribou
Freshwater crossings not protected, and more sea crossings need protection, association reps say
Qikiqtani Inuit Association representatives say they don’t believe a proposed plan to manage Nunavut lands does enough to protect caribou.
They voiced their concerns during hearings on the plan this week at the Cadet Hall in Iqaluit.
“We feel there is not enough caribou habitat proposed for protection,” said QIA secretary-treasurer Levi Barnabas on Wednesday.
The Nunavut Planning Commission is in charge of developing a land-use plan for the territory. It proposes where resource extraction and development can occur and which areas will be protected.
The commission has been touring around Nunavut to hold hearings on the proposed plan. It hosted hearings this fall in Cambridge Bay, Rankin Inlet and Pond Inlet. A hearing was also held in Thompson, Man.
Caribou were a prominent point of discussion, including the need to protect more of their habitat in the Baffin region.
While QIA is happy the proposed plan limits development in caribou herding land, the association does not believe those limits go far enough, said Solomon Awa, the association’s director of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and engagement.
Awa pointed to North Baffin and the Melville Peninsula in particular as areas where caribou migration areas are not sufficiently protected.
The draft plan also does not protect freshwater crossings for caribou, and doesn’t protect enough sea-ice crossings, he said, adding his association plans to submit a report describing what areas need more caribou protection.
Awa said the report will be developed in partnership with the Qikiqtaaluk Wildlife Board.
It will not be an exhaustive list, but will prioritize areas the two organizations believe are most important.
“We recognize not all areas can be protected,” Awa said.
QIA received some pushback on its criticisms from regional hunters and trappers associations. Specifically, Pangnirtung HTA member Johnny Mike said this is the first time he is hearing of a QIA report on concerns about caribou in his region.
He added he would like caribou from North Baffin and South Baffin to be seen as different herds.
Ben Kovic, from the Amaruq HTA in Iqaluit, pointed out other wildlife needed to be protected, specifically seals.
He told Nunatsiaq News he asked about seal protections because it is the most common food source for Inuit.
“Communities like Clyde River, Qikiqtarjuaq, they don’t really have access to [easily accessible] caribou,” he said.
Kovic also mentioned in the hearing that having answers to issues such as seal protection is important, because the deadline for consultations with the hunters’ associations is Jan. 10.
“We’re in a rush,” he said.
QIA is working on suggestions for seal protections ahead of the Jan. 10 deadline, Barnabas said.
Other concerns brought up by QIA include that the proposed land use plan could interfere with the association’s plans for future conservation, such as negotiations around Agguttinni Territorial Park near Clyde River, and that it does not include enough restrictions on marine vessel traffic.
Hearings resumed Thursday and run through Nov. 19.