Overlapping Interests Area - Cree/Inuit Joint Zone
Eeyou Marine Region Planning Commissions (EMRPC)
Nunavik Marine Region Planning Commission (NMRPC)
Nunavik Marine Region Impact Review Board (NMRIB)
Marine bird aerial survey in Nunavik
Project Status Completed Screening
Marine Bird Aerial Survey by the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) – August 2023
In 2022, the second phase of the Ocean Protection Plan (OPP) was launched by
the federal government. One of the main objectives of the OPP on which CWS is
focusing is to acquire and enhance knowledge of migratory birds in order to
better understand their vulnerability in time and space. This knowledge will
allow us to, amongst other things, assess risk and act rapidly and
appropriately in incidents affecting the marine environment, oil spills in
particular. Therefore, CWS in Quebec Region undertook a prioritization exercise
to determine where we had knowledge gaps in Quebec marine birds’ environment.
We concluded that we had major information gaps in the Nunavik Marine Region.
Consequently, we decided to deploy substantial efforts towards filling these
gaps. Another important objective of the OPP is to implement sustainable
partnerships with First Nations and Inuit people to share our respective
knowledge of migratory birds. Given these ambitious and valuable objectives, we
intend to implement a large-scale monitoring program to improve our knowledge
of the Nunavik marine migratory birds. For the first year of this project, we
are planning on doing two major activities:
Perform a helicopter survey of the coastal area of Nunavik during the sea
ducks’ molting period (see below for details).
Do consultations with Inuit and Cree communities from Nunavik to share
knowledge and to understand what issues about marine migratory birds are the
biggest concerns for Northerners.
of the project
project or Amendment/Renewal: New project beginning in summer 2023
name: Marine bird aerial survey in Nunavik
dates: August 14 to September 3 (seasonal work)
location of the project (Surveyed area): This project will take place in the
Nunavik Marine Region and in the Eeyou Marine Region between Killiniq and
Kuujjuarapik. Yet, the exact covered area is to be determined as our capability
to cover this whole area will highly depend on weather conditions. In the best
case scenario, this is the targeted area. Work will take place at an altitude
of 75 meters over the sea and within 1.5 km of the coast.
Number of people
involved: 3 biologists + helicopter pilot 1) Yannick Seyer, Wildlife biologist
at CWS – Project leader (email@example.com // 873-354-0524) 2) Francis
St-Pierre, Field technician at CWS 3) Benoit Audet, Wildlife biologist at CWS
4) Helicopter pilot, Nunavik Rotors – ID to be confirmed CWS crew will be in
the Nunavik region for this proposed aerial survey between August 14 and
September 3. The helicopter pilot may change after 1 or 2 weeks of work.
The team will be
based in 5 different communities depending on the progression of the survey.
Daily, the helicopter will explore different areas leaving from the base
communities. So far, our planning goes as follows:
• Kuujjuaq: August
14 to 19 (August 14: Arrival in Nunavik)
• Kangirsuk: August
20 to 22
• Salluit: August 23
August 26 to 28
August 29 to September 1
September 2 to 3 (September 3: Departure from Nunavik)
Description of the
project: This helicopter survey aims at identifying three different parameters
of the avian fauna in the Nunavik marine region: 1) the diversity, 2) the
abundance, and 3) the distribution of marine birds (seabirds, sea ducks,
shorebirds) during a crucial period of their annual cycle, the molting period.
During this period, many species are flightless and become highly vulnerable to
accident in the marine environment (ex. oil spill). Our survey will help
identifying potentially important molting hotspots where large numbers of
marine birds aggregate when they are flightless. By identifying these we thus
will improve our understanding of their annual cycle, but above all, we will
improve our ability to react promptly and properly in case of needed. To gain
this knowledge, we estimate we will need 72 hours of flight (~12 days at 6
hours per day). Our work involves 5 days of flight in Ungava Bay, 2 days in
Hudson Strait, and 5 days in Hudson Bay. During our flights, we will fly at ~75
meters, but will be higher during the long-distance displacements
(displacements to reach survey areas or to move between communities). All the
surveys will be conducted above the sea and long-distance displacements may
sometimes be above land to shorten the travel distance only if they do not
disturb Inuit and Cree activities. On some days, we may not be able to fly due
to weather conditions. During these days, we are planning on doing various
outreach activities in the communities to meet the Inuit and Cree and explain
the survey and its purpose. The discussions we are expecting to have with Inuit
and Cree during these activities will help us to improve our planning of
upcoming consultation and survey activities.
Unfortunately, most of our data in this large marine region is old and existing
surveys are more than 10 to 20 years old. This survey will update our knowledge
of this area and allow us to, hopefully, confirm the presence of important
marine bird aggregation sites. Also, based on the data we will collect during
this survey and during the consultations, we will define the objectives for the
coming years of this new monitoring program in Nunavik. We have a great
opportunity to set up collaborative projects with Inuit and Cree for the
upcoming years in the context of this new OPP monitoring program. Moreover, the
maps we will develop following our survey will support further consultations in
northern communities. We believe they will serve as a starting point for our
discussion with Inuit and Cree to define priorities. While CWS might already
have some priorities in mind, we want to involve Inuit and Cree in the next
steps of the project and ensure that their priorities are considered as well.
Finally, these new data will help us to reach the Canada’s objective to
considerably improve the number and the size of marine protected areas across
the country. Using this aerial survey, in addition to the consultations we
would like to set up, may help the Canadian government to continue its efforts
in this direction.
transportation: All the survey and the long-distance displacement between
communities will be done with a helicopter. Displacement within the communities
(not for survey purpose) will be done using a rented car or an ATV.
Type of equipment
to be used: The aerial survey will be done from a A-Star helicopter
(AS350-B2/SD2 – Nunavik Rotors). Otherwise, data acquisition won’t require any
specific equipment other than binoculars and digital camera (used onboard) to
validate observations made from the helicopter.
structures: No structures will be erected in for this project.
Local resources to
be used: In Kuujjuaq, we will be accommodated at the Auberge Kuujjuaq Inn and
at the FCNQ hotels in other communities. In Kuujjuaq, we plan to rent a car
from a local provider and food will be purchased at local stores.
Location to the nearest
community: Refer to map above. With this project, we will try to cover the
largest area possible in the Nunavik Marine Region. We will stay in different
communities and will also pass in the vicinity of others. As our survey will
stay in the marine environment, we should stay about 100-1500 meters offshore
to avoid disturbance in the communities and in Inuit and Cree used areas.
Location of the project to sensitive areas: This project will be entirely
conducted above the marine area and won’t overlap with any bird sanctuaries,
national parks or other known to be sensitive areas. If we ever had to fly
above land (example for long-distance displacement), we would avoid Inuit camp
sites or any other cultural or archaeological areas.
considered: To collect the kind of data we are expecting, conducting an aerial
survey is the best alternative. Flying at a reasonable height to limit
disturbance on birds will allow us to cover a large marine area and to conduct
accurate surveys. Otherwise, surveys conducted from a boat will highly limit
the data acquisition as we won’t be able to cover a very large area, and it
will still cause disturbances on birds if we need to make approaches to confirm
numbers and IDs.
impacts anticipated: We have no reason to believe this survey will have
environmental impacts. We won’t land to perform inland surveys, thus reducing
the disturbance on local environments and animals. Then, aerial survey will
only involve quick flight over flocks of sea ducks and seabirds at sea and we
will maintain reasonable distance to minimize disturbance. Concerning the
seabird colonies we may encounter during our survey, we will observe them from
a distance only to identify the species and take photos to try to count the
breeding pairs. We are not planning to fly nearby seabird colonies to avoid
unnecessary disturbances and to avoid risking hitting birds with the
Impact on local
communities: We have no reason to believe this project will have impact on
local communities, Inuit and Cree rights and their use of the lands, waters,
and natural resources. Our ultimate objective is to acquire knowledge to
fulfill knowledge gaps we have on seabird and sea ducks to help preserve them.
We definitely don’t want to impact Inuit and Cree rights and life and we will
do all that we can to avoid this kind of impact. For example, during our
survey, we will get as far as possible from Inuit and Cree communities, camp
sites, and hunting and fishing sites.