Arctic conservation study

Canada’s environment minister on Tuesday announced a five-million-dollar (4.7 million US) feasibility study for the creation of an Arctic marine conservation area at mouth of the famed Northwest Passage.

“As global climate change continues and traffic through the Northwest Passage is expected to increase, our government is committed to safeguarding Canada’s Arctic and protecting its most special natural features,” said Environment Minister Jim Prentice.

“This project will allow us to significantly advance our knowledge as well as our protection and conservation activities in this area,” he said.

Lancaster Sound, at the eastern entrance of the famed Northwest Passage, is flanked by “dramatic cliffs and spectacular fjords,” according to Parks Canada.

During the summer months most of the world’s narwhal, a third of North America’s belugas, a large number of bowhead whales, ringed seals, harp seals and walrus are found in these waters.

It is also home to one of the highest densities of polar bears in the world and is a breeding ground for about one-third of Eastern Canada’s colonial seabirds, including several hundred thousand pairs of thick-billed murres, black-legged kittiwakes and northern fulmars.