Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area (TN MPA)

Note:

Charts, diagrams and contact information on this website are provided for information purposes only and should not be used for fishing, navigation or other purposes. Please refer to the MPA Regulations or contact your regional Fisheries and Oceans Canada office for official coordinates.

At-A-Glance

At-A-Glance

Location

Mackenzie River Delta and estuary in the Beaufort Sea; Western Arctic Bioregion.

Approximate Size (km2) contribution to Marine Conservation Targets

1,750 km2

Approximate % coverage contribution to Marine Conservation Targets

0.03%

Date of designation

August, 2010

Conservation Objectives
  • To conserve and protect beluga whales and other marine species (anadromous fish, waterfowl and seabirds), their habitats and their supporting ecosystem.

Prohibitions

Tarium Niryutait (TN MPA) Regulations prohibit activities that disturb, damage, destroy or remove from these Areas, living marine organisms or any part of their habitat, unless listed as exceptions in the Regulations or approved by the Minister.

Environmental Context

TN MPA was Canada's first Arctic MPA and consists of three sub-regions: Niaqunnaq, Okeevik, and Kittigaryuit. The large freshwater influences from the Mackenzie River Estuary and marine influences from the Beaufort Sea make the TN MPA an important summer habitat for the Eastern Beaufort Sea beluga and a diverse range of fish species. The primary environmental factors that influence the TN MPA 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 MPA.

The presence of grounded or land-fast ice, during the period from freeze-up to break-up, shapes this ecosystem. In summer and fall fish 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 TN MPA. 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.

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 TN MPA. Other aquatic mammals including polar bears, ringed seals and bowhead whales are also known to use the area in and around TN MPA.

Tarium Niryutait MPA

Tarium Niryutait MPA

Dataset for all MPAs available.

Beluga. © Emilie Couture.

Beluga. © Emilie Couture.

Ecosystem

Ecosystem

Seine Net at Shallow Bay, YT. © Jasmine Brewster.

Seine Net at Shallow Bay, YT. © Jasmine Brewster.

The environmental factors that influence Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area (TN MPA) 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 bottomfast and floating ice within the landfast ice zone can cause seabed disturbance during spring freshet (i.e., freshwater flowing into the ocean during spring melt) and ice break-up. Disturbance from small irregulat depressions contribute to the seasonal changes in seabed morphology which can also impact this vulnerable ecosystem.

In the open-water seasons, the freshwater influences from the Mackenzie River Estuary and marine influences from the Beaufort Sea create a brackish environment for a diverse range of fish species to co-occur, including freshwater, coastal, and marine species. In the summer months, some of the important subsistence fish harvested by Inuvialuit include broad whitefish, Arctic cisco, and Dolly Varden char.

Each summer, groups of beluga whales belonging to the Eastern Beaufort Sea beluga population enter the TN MPA. The warm waters of the Mackenzie River Estuary that influence the sub-regions of the TN MPA are believed to attract these whales. The science behind beluga aggregation in the TN MPA has been heavily studied with theories ranging from moulting and calving to protection from predators. Other marine mammals known to use the TN MPA include polar bears, ringed seals, and bearded seals.

Management and Conservation

Management and Conservation

Arctic Cisco. © Jasmine Brewster.

Arctic Cisco. © Jasmine Brewster.

The Tarium Niryutait MPA was created through a collaborative effort by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Inuvialuit, 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 Inuvialuit harvesting traditions in the 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.

Monitoring protocols and strategies for selected indicators in the Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area (MPA)

Monitoring Indicators for the Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area (TNMPA) (CSAS sar - 2010/059)

Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area regulations

Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement

Tarium Niryutait marine protected area: management plan

Research and Publications

Research and Publications

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