A new video released today by the Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization and Oceans North urges the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) to reject the proposed expansion of Baffinland’s Mary River Mine to avoid harming narwhal due to increased ship traffic.
Today is the deadline for stakeholders’ final submissions to NIRB after lengthy public hearings about Baffinland’s plan to more than double the number of iron ore ships traveling through Eclipse Sound — from 144 one-way transits to 336 per year. At the same time, Baffinland’s own data shows a 50% decline in narwhal in Eclipse Sound since 2019, an observation confirmed by local hunters who rely on marine mammals as part of their diet.
“The hunters that were camped in Milne Inlet this summer, they have seen very little narwhal,” said Eric Ootoovak, a hunter from Mittimatalik. “All the whales were concentrated in Tremblay Sound where there’s no ship noise.”
Shipping noise disrupts the ability of narwhal to communicate, find food, and other activities, and the long-term effects of this are unknown and potentially irreversible.
“We ask NIRB to slow down and prioritize Inuit,” said Chris Debicki, vice-president of policy and counsel for Oceans North. “The Phase 2 proposes levels of extraction that are incompatible with environmental sustainability and social development.”
The environmental impact assessment submitted by Baffinland does not adequately meet NIRB’s requirements for maintaining ecosystem integrity and supporting the well-being of Nunavummiut. The cumulative effects of increased shipping through this region, including the nearby Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area, are of serious concern. That has prompted opposition to the mine’s expansion from Mittimatalik and other Nunavut communities, as well as organizations such as QIA and NTI.
Ruth Teichroeb is communications director for Oceans North.