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Shipping frenzy threatens Indigenous food security – National Observer

July 13th 2023

Arctic shipping and the noise and environmental pollution left in its wake are driving narwhals and other animals farther away from those who depend on them.

Lisa Koperqualuk points to the Inuit community of Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), a northern Baffin Island hamlet with a population of around 1,500, as an example of how shipping has affected Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homeland stretching through Russia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland.

The number of ships per year has increased dramatically in Mittimatalik’s waters, transporting iron from the Mary River Mine on Baffin Island 160 kilometres south of the community. It’s caused narwhals to veer far from their normal migratory routes to escape the noise and environmental pollution of shipping, Koperqualuk said.

That, in turn, has forced Inuit hunters from Mittimatalik to adapt and travel long distances to find narwhals and other marine life. Meat from narwhals and other whales is an important cultural food, often referred to in Inuit communities as country food for its comfort and symbolism of home.

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