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Marine region number 2 MPA number 32

MPA Name (English) Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area
MPA Name (Local) Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area
Current Status Proposed

Country CANADA
Location • Lancaster Sound, Nunavut
Size • 17,182 sq mi (44,500 sq km)

Cetacean name
• narwhal, beluga, killer whale, bowhead whale
Cetacean name
• Monodon monoceros, Delphinapterus leucas, Orcinus orca, Balaena mysticetus
Other species • ringed seals, walrus; one third of Eastern Canada’s colonial seabirds breed and feed here (thick-billed murres, black-legged kittiwakes, northern fulmars and others)

Rationale • National marine conservation area (NMCA) proposal for Lancaster Sound area was first prepared in 1987, but the feasibility assessment was then suspended at the request of local Inuit. A new feasibility study was announced by the federal government in 2007 but awaits signing of an MoU between the federal and territorial governments and Inuit organizations. In Dec 2009, the Canadian federal government announced a Cdn$5 million study to create the marine conservation area.
• Rationale for proposed NMCA is that this is an area of high primary productivity as well as a crucial migratory and feeding area. Lancaster Sound has the single largest summer concentration of narwhals in the world.

Post 2nd Editopn
• In December 2010 the government of Canada announced its proposed boundaries for the marine conservation area. It would cover most of Lancaster Sound and all the waters surrounding Bylot Island, including Eclipse Sound.
• In June 2016 Shell voluntarily contributed offshore rights to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to support the establishment of a national marine conservation area off the coast of Nunavut. The validity of Shell’s permits had been challenged by World Wildlife Fund Canada, which claimed that these permits were an obstacle to conservation efforts striving to finalize the Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area.
• Shell has presented the Nature Conservancy of Canada with more than 8,625 sq km of offshore exploratory permits in the waters of Baffin Bay, near Lancaster Sound. The Nature Conservancy of Canada subsequently released the permits to the Government of Canada, thereby facilitating a marine conservation initiative of global significance.
• A federal proposal for a national marine conservation area in Lancaster Sound currently includes 44,500 sq km of marine territory that encompasses most of Lancaster Sound. The contribution of Shell’s permits, located outside and east of these boundaries, could clear the way for a larger national marine conservation area. Expanding the proposed conservation area would positively respond to Inuit aspirations to protect their traditional territory, and support the federal government’s target of protecting at least 10 per cent of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2020.
Management plan
Management plan web link

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