Canada and Greenland Collaborate on Arctic Polynya Conservation


© Leah Brown, DFO.

Canada and Greenland join forces for the conservation of the Pikialasorsuaq Arctic polynya.

Located in the waters of Canada and the Kingdom of Denmark with regard to Greenland, the Pikialasorsuaq or North Water Polynya, is a dynamic area of open sea that remains ice-free throughout the winter. It is one of the most biologically productive regions north of the Arctic Circle.

The Pikialasorsuaq plays an important role for the surrounding Inuit communities. Firstly, it provides a food source through harvesting. Secondly, the area has cultural and spiritual significance and also acts as a travel route connecting Inuit. The Pikialasorsuaq marine ecosystem is recognised as a vital habitat for many migratory species upon which Inuit depend. However, it is currently threatened by climate change and increased human activity.

The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and her Greenlandic counterpart signed the Letter of Intent for Cooperation on the Pikialasorsuaq on 19 October. The signing ceremony took place on the margins of the Arctic Circle Assembly, in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The signing was witnessed by Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) President in recognition of QIA’s role as the Inuit partner to the Government of Canada in the discussions with Greenland, and in representation of Inuit in Canada living on the Pikialasorsuaq.

The Letter of Intent will allow for the establishment of a joint steering committee across Canada and Greenland. It will consist of Inuit and national government representatives from both sides.

The committee will share Indigenous knowledge and scientific information, work towards common conservation goals, and develop ecosystem-based management for the future of the Pikialasorsuaq. 

Source:, the official website of the Government of Canada