Towards a marine management plan for Nunatsiavut: Coastal ecosystem research in support of priority concerns of Inuit
Inuit are intimately tied to their local environment through hunting, fishing and foraging for country foods. As such, climate change, changing animal migration patterns, and environmental contamination threaten important aspects of Inuit life. For the first time, Labrador Inuit are developing a marine planning initiative (Imappivut - ‘Our Waters’) which will include protected areas in their waters. This project team has been invited to support this endeavour. The proposed research project will address priority elements on three focal species (Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus), rock cod (Gadus ogac), and ringed seal (Pusa hispida)) identified by Labrador Inuit in support of their marine management plan ('Imappivut'). The project will improve understanding of Imappivut marine habitats and culturally important species that rely on those habitats. Individual projects will accomplish the following: 1) tag Arctic charr and rock cod to assess
movement and distribution; 2) use a combination of archived and newly collected biological samples to assess food web structure in Arctic charr and ringed seal as a function of climate change and consequent implications for pathways and effects of mercury (Hg) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); 3) use the same biological samples to investigate plastic
contamination in all three species of value to Inuit, including synergistic interactions between plastics, Hg, and PCBs; and 4) large-scale marine habitat mapping using multibeam sonar data, benthic video transects, benthic organisms and 3 FULL PROPOSAL APPLICATION FORM 2018
bottom sediment in support of evaluating benthic habitats in high-use charr and rock cod areas, the development of sustainable subsistence and commercial fisheries, and the identification and characterization of sensitive and critical habitats. These interwoven studies will provide multi-scalar assessments of the region in terms of traditional food distributions, trends, and topics of concern. All data will be shared with the Nunatsiavut Government, where results will support the development of the marine management plan Imappivut and will inform future efforts across the Arctic on the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs). This project will support capacity building in Inuit communities, including hiring local Inuit HQPs, to enable local marine monitoring, protection and management in Labrador.