Tarium Niryutait MPA
The Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area (MPA) was officially announced on August 26th 2010. It is Canada's first arctic MPA and consists of three individual areas called Niaqunnaq, Okeevik, and Kittigaryuit. Together these three areas cover approximately 1,800 square kilometres of the Mackenzie River Delta and estuary in the Beaufort Sea.
The environmental factors that influence Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area (TNMPA) are the Mackenzie River and seasonal land-fast ice. Discharge from the Mackenzie River and resulting concentrations of nutrients, carbon, suspended mineral sediments and contaminants, as well as water temperatures, play vital roles in defining physical and biological conditions within the TNMPA.
The presence of grounded or land-fast ice, during the period from freeze-up to break-up, shapes this ecosystem. This area is also characterized by 100% ice scouring and/or ice grounding.
In summer and fall fishes that migrate from the ocean to freshwater to spawn move out from the Mackenzie River and follow currents along the shore to feeding and rearing areas in the TNMPA. Least Cisco and Broad Whitefish predominate July through September. During the period of ice cover, when waters are more saline, mostly marine species including Pacific Herring are present.
For reasons that are not fully understood, each summer thousands of Beluga Whales that belong to the Eastern Beaufort Sea population return to the shallow (<5 m) and warm Mackenzie River Estuary, including the TNMPA. Other aquatic mammals including Polar Bears, Ringed Seals and Bowhead Whales are also known to use the TNMPA.
Management & Conservation
The Tarium Niryutait MPA was created through a collaborative effort by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Inuvialuit people, private industry, local stakeholders and governments.
The key objectives of the Tarium Niryutait MPA are:
- To conserve and protect beluga whales and other marine species (anadromous fish, waterfowl and seabirds), their habitats and their supporting ecosystem.
- To ensure the long-term sustainable management of one of the world's largest summering stock of beluga whales and their habitat.
- To preserve the harvesting traditions of the Inuvialuit people in the ISR (Inuvialuit Settlement Region).
- To prohibit specific activities or classes of activities that could potentially negatively impact beluga or any part of the ecosystem in the areas upon which they depend.
Tarium Niryutair Marine Protected Area regulations can be found on the Justice Laws website.
Research and Publications
Beaufort Sea Planning Atlas (DFO - 2009)
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