Nordatlantisk Fiskeriministerkonference i Shediac 29. august 2017

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1 Naalakkersuisoq Karl-Kristian Kruses tale Nordatlantisk Fiskeriministerkonference i Shediac 29. august 2017 Dear friends and colleagues I would like to thank our hosts for this chance to visit beautiful New Brunswick and appreciate the hospitality we have been greeted with here. For Greenland, Canada is our closest neighbour and especially with Nunavut, we share a strong sense of culture. We experience similar challenges. We have strong partnerships on many issues as we share a like-minded approach to a safe and sustainable Arctic development with respect for local culture and traditional ways of life. Together Greenland and Nunavut communicate the cultural and social values of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic. Through cooperation we are able to promote greater understanding of the issues that are important to the people of the Arctic. Therefore, it is indeed a pleasure for us to meet with our friends and colleagues here in New Brunswick to talk about measures to protect our Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans. Intro The protection of the marine environment in Greenland falls under the remit of different ministries. The Ministry of Nature and Environment is responsible for the international agreements and conventions regarding biodiversity and overall nature conservation in Greenland, including protection of the marine environment. The Ministry of Fisheries and Hunting is responsible for the management of all living resources. It is therefore essential, when we talk about ocean governance, that we have close cooperation across sectors. It is also essential that we work across borders as we share marine ecosystems and resources among us. What we have done to protect the marine environment We have in Greenland almost 5 % marine protected areas according to IUCN standards. In Greenland, there are currently 12 protected land areas. Six of these areas contain marine components. Side 1 af 5

2 The regulations for the protected areas and protected wetlands contain administrative rules for fishing, hunting, boating, air travel and traffic, etc. In addition, Greenland has designated 12 Ramsar areas. All 12 areas have marine and / or freshwater components. Five areas can be recognized as MPAs according to the IUCN criteria. Example marine protected area I will give you an example of one protected marine area in Greenland. Melville Bay has been recognized as an Arctic marine area of heightened ecological and cultural significance through both national and international assessment processes. Melville Bay is in Greenlandic called Qimusseriarsuaq meaning the great dog sledding area and is a large, mostly ice covered area which lies north of Kullorsuaq extending up to the Thule district. Part of Melville Bay with adjoining stretches of land and ice, has been designated as a nature reservation, where all wildlife has been protected since 1989 by Executive Order. Especially, in order to protect the breeding populations of polar bears, belugas and narwhals. In the nature reserve all hunting, fishing, egg collecting, passage, boating or air transport below the altitude of 500 m, is prohibited. The reserve is also off limits to expeditions except for scientific endeavours with special permits. Any persons, with permanent residence in either Upernavik or Avanersuaq municipality and possessing valid proof that their main occupation is hunting may, however, continue traditional hunting and fishing in parts of the area. Other measures examples As examples of other measures for marine conservation, I can mention tools as Fishery closed areas; Bottom trawl prohibition; Areas designated as seabird breeding sanctuaries and regulation of activities near and at seabird colonies in the breeding season; Prohibition of the use of motorized vessels in some fiords in relation to seal and narwhal breeding seasons, etc. In relation to offshore mineral resources activities, we have also various orders in place to safeguard the marine ecosystem. New Marine Environment Protection Act We have recently passed a new Act on the protection of the marine environment. Together with the Nature Protection Act from 2003, this new Act aims to prevent pollution of the marine environment. The Act sets out strict requirements for a wide range of human activities within our internal waters and territorial sea. In addition to protecting the environment, the purpose of the Act is to ensure that social development can take place on a sustainable basis. An ecosystem based approach, sustainability, the precautionary principle and the use of the best available technology are now explicit requirements in the Act. This brings the language of the Act in line with the CBD and OSPAR Convention. Side 2 af 5

3 What we are doing The Government of Greenland has initiated the work towards the identification of ecological and biological valuable and vulnerable areas in Greenland. Over the past decade, considerable effort has been invested in identifying ecologically valuable and sensitive marine areas and coastlines. Furthermore, key habitats, migration routes, and the population size and ecology of sensitive species and resources have been identified. The purpose of the identification is to provide a biological and technical platform for strategic efforts in relation to the protection of ecological and biological valuable and vulnerable areas in Greenland. The main work in Greenland at this time is to build up knowledge for the administration to be able to take management decisions on a well-informed basis. Public awareness and local involvement in regulation where protection and sustainable use of living resources go hand in hand, is of great importance to the Government of Greenland. Area of special interest We have many special and pristine areas with abundant wild life and biodiversity in Greenland, but here I will focus on one area, as many indicators tell us that this area may be in need of special management attention. Pikialasorsuaq The North Water Polynya is the Arctic s largest polynya, and one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the Northern Hemisphere. The North Water is in Greenlandic called Pikialasorsuaq - meaning the great upwelling. The polynya s open waters feature an unusually early spring plankton bloom, which supports exceptionally large concentrations of seabirds and marine mammals. The North Water Polynya supports a returning colony of little auks, representing 80% of the global population, the largest single species aggregation of marine birds anywhere on earth. This open water provides vital spring and summer feeding areas for several whale species and a wide variety of marine birds. There are year-round concentrations of walrus and significant numbers of polar bear, including important denning areas. The area provides a critical wintering and migratory habitat for the Baffin Bay beluga population and summering areas for a portion of the North Baffin narwhal population. The area provides important wintering areas for bowhead whales and summering areas for harp seals. The area constitutes a critical breeding and feeding ground for large numbers of many species of seabirds. Side 3 af 5

4 Parts of this region provide important subsistence hunting grounds. The natural resources of the North Water Polynya have more than once been the basis for immigration into Greenland from Inuit from the west, and therefore also have significant historical and cultural significance. The North Water Polynya and the adjacent Lancaster Sound in Canada are considered to be ecologically important in a circumpolar context. Both areas have, based on IUCN's work, been characterized as SUPER-EBSA s. I have followed the Canadian work towards protecting Lancaster Sound as an MPA with great interest and will continue to do so. I find that the hearing process and involvement of local and Indigenous peoples are similar to approaches in Greenland. We are awaiting with great anticipation the recommendations of the Pikialasorsuaq Commission - a special commission set up by the Inuit Circumpolar Council to consult Inuit in Greenland and Nunavut on both sides of the North Water Polynya. The ICC fears the North Water area is threatened by climate change and by the possibility of increased shipping, tourism, fishing and non-renewable resource development. The commission has travelled and heard hunters and other local residents on their uses and experiences. Changes in the marine environment may have implications on the harvesting of wildlife, which remains the most important food source to people of this region. According to the commission, Inuit in Canada and Greenland are expressing a strong desire for increased cooperation to arrive at a common vision for shared resources and Inuit-led management of the North Water. Once the recommendations from the commission have been presented to the Government of Greenland, we may be able to link this to the work of the on-going identification and consider a management end conservation regime for this area. Utilisation and protection We see a great global trend in the eagerness to protect the marine environment and ecosystems. I must stress the importance of sustainable use of marine resources. I must underline that, when we talk about protecting marine areas, we need to also consider the social and economic needs of the people who depend on fishing and hunting for their livelihoods. Fishing is the backbone in Greenland's economy and is Greenland's most important export sector. The fishing and hunting industry are important to our national identity and these industries constitute a livelihood for many families, especially in the smaller settlements. Side 4 af 5

5 For Greenland it is of utmost importance that ocean governance accommodates sustainable utilisation of marine resources, while at the same time protect ecosystems. It is also of utmost priority and only natural for us, that in all decision-making processes on ocean governance, the involvement of local and indigenous peoples is included, to ensure that decisions are taken in close cooperation with the people directly affected. For me, my overall focus is that we do not neglect the socio-economic components of sustainability in our ocean governance. There must be a balance between utilisation and protection of marine ecosystems. With this, I thank you for your attention. Side 5 af 5

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