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November 3, 2023
For 5,000 years, the Inuit communities of the Arctic have relied upon the ocean and its wildlife to sustain them. But as climate change warms seas and melts ice, ships are venturing north in greater numbers. With them comes a sharp increase in undersea noise that disrupts sea creatures, adversely impacting the hunters who have pursued them for millennia.
In response, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, which represents about 180,000 Inuit from Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Chukotla, has urged a United Nations agency that oversees commercial shipping to adopt mitigation guidelines that incorporate Indigenous knowledge.
Recently, the International Maritime Organization published recommendations that advise the shipping companies traversing the Arctic to draw on that experience and lists specific suggestions for reducing the din. It’s a significant recognition of the value of Inuit expertise, and the potential for their insights to mitigate the racket caused by ships breaking through ice and hauling cargo across miles of ocean.