A Life Vest for Hudson Bay's Drifting Stewardship
Keywords:Belcher Islands, community-based monitoring, cumulative effects, environmental stewardship, Hudson Bay, integrated ocean management, marine governance, Sanikiluaq, transboundary impacts
Hudson Bay, as the world’s second-largest inland sea, is far from insignificant. Yet, the Hudson Bay bioregion barely registers on the radar of Canadian ocean management. When it does, it almost invariably appears under a project-specific approach or within the strict parameters of jurisdictional responsibilities. However, Inuit in Sanikiluaq, from their standpoint on the Belcher Islands, see the surrounding marine environment as being largely unrelated to political boundaries and jurisdictions. From their perspective, stewardship means ensuring the sustained health of Hudson Bay and its marine life. We advocate concrete steps to bring compartmentalized governmental processes in line with this more comprehensive definition of marine environmental stewardship. A twofold course of action is needed. The first step is to make joint, complementary use of scientific and Inuit knowledge to understand the cumulative, transboundary effects on this Arctic marine ecosystem of natural and human-induced changes. Second, collaboration is greatly needed to unify the present fragmented coastal and marine governance in the eastern Canadian Arctic. We therefore propose establishing a community-based monitoring and assessment network and a cooperative, inter-jurisdictional stewardship body. Such a collaborative effort could make tangible progress toward sound, ecosystem-based, integrated management of the Hudson Bay bioregion.