December 3, 2015 – Washington, D.C. – Duane Smith, President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Canada is in Washington D.C. discussing the future of Central Arctic Ocean fisheries with the Arctic Five countries (Canada, Russia, United States, Denmark and Norway). “Inuit have been observing and monitoring Arctic wildlife and climate for 1000’s of years and this knowledge is a valuable contributionfor evidence based decision making” stated Mr. Smith. Smith applauded Prime Minster Trudeau for his remarks at the opening of the climate talks in Paris Monday, “…Third, and very importantly, we will work with our provinces, territories and Indigenous leaders who are taking a leadership role on climate change. Indigenous peoples have known for thousands of years how to care for our planet. The rest ofus have a lot to learn. And no time to waste.”

The impacts on Arctic fisheries from climate change are clear, “It is not just the reduction of sea ice froma warming climate which brings more ships in the Central Arctic Ocean (CAO) but also the appearance of new species of fish and even top predators like killer whales. We do not know the impacts of these changes on the fragile Arctic food chain or what the impacts of a longer ice free season will mean to theseimportant species.” Smith wants the government to utilize indigenous knowledge in all decisionsregarding the Arctic and calls on the Government to recognize the need for climate adaption funding for Inuit in the Speech from the Throne tomorrow.

“Healthy and abundant fish stocks are essential to the cultural, nutritional and economic well-being and way of life of the Inuit communities and peoples who live along river drainages and coasts” stated Smith.ICC recognizes that multinational companies are looking north for new fish stocks and ICC is urging a precautionary approach. In July 2015 the five Arctic coastal states agreed to sign a moratorium on commercial fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean.

In 2014, ICC held its General Assembly in Inuvik, Northwest Territories and were directed to advocate for a precautionary approach in developing commercial fishing in the international waters of the Central Arctic Ocean and support a moratorium until fish stocks have been adequately assessed and a sustainable management regime is in place that fully engages and involves Inuit.

For more information:
Natasha Latreille, ICC Canada P: 613-563-2642