Slow down, Baffinland tells cruise ships


Cruise ships drive too fast near Pond Inlet, according to Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.

Baffinland has posted on social media whenever it has noticed a cruise ship traveling faster than nine knots, which is the mining company’s own speed limit for its contracted vessels. On September 13, he posted about a cruise ship cruising at 13.8 knots – speeds he called “disturbing”.

“Baffinland documents and reports all maritime infractions, including our vessels. The reason for our messages is not to shame or blame, but to raise awareness of the need for standardized regulations for all vessels in the Northern Waterways,” said Baffinland Chief Peter Akman. relationships with stakeholders.

“Baffinland vessels voluntarily adhere to restrictions such as a maximum speed of nine knots and remain on an established shipping route, to minimize any potential impact on marine mammals and the environment as a whole.”

In early August, Baffinland reported that its marine controllers had tracked a Norwegian passenger ship traveling at a speed of 11 knots and entering what the Twitter post said included several Inuit ecological “no go zones” and narwhal calving grounds.

Nansen Polar Expeditions responded to Baffinland’s message, attributing the vessel’s speed and location to bad weather and saying they had been in contact with the Pond Inlet community.

Located at the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage, Pond Inlet has welcomed about 20 cruise ships this summer.

Baffinland, whose Mary River Iron Mine port is in Milne Inlet, about 100 kilometers from the community of Pond Inlet, now receives alerts when a vessel in that area is traveling faster than nine knots.

Full-time Inuit boating instructors based in Pond Inlet track and monitor vessels and provide daily updates, Akman said.

Monitors aboard the MV Botnica include researchers, biologists and Inuit marine wildlife observers who record data on the location and behavior of marine mammals, other vessels, ice conditions and bird sightings sailors, he said.

Baffinland works with community members, hunter and trapper organizations and hamlets to ensure all concerns related to boating activities are addressed, Akman said.

Pond Inlet hunters said shipping activities from Baffinland’s Mary River mine are negatively impacting the number of narwhals in the area.

Although Baffinland acknowledged the decline in narwhal numbers, the company argued that there was no clear evidence that its boating activities were to blame, as other environmental factors, such as changing sea conditions sea ​​ice or new predator-prey dynamics could be at play.

In an online document about its marine wildlife watch, Baffinland calls its current speed limit a “strong and cautious mitigation measure.”

“To our knowledge, this is still the lowest nautical speed limit in Canada,” Lou Kamermans, Baffinland’s senior director of sustainability, said in a June letter to the Impact Review Board. of Nunavut.

Meanwhile, Baffinland is awaiting a decision from Ottawa next week on its decision to keep ore production from Mary River at six million tonnes.

No speed limit for cruise ships in Canadian Arctic waters

Transport Canada does not regulate specific speed restrictions in Canadian Arctic waters, said Sau Sau Liu, senior communications adviser at Transport Canada.

It’s good that there is a “voluntary slowdown” in marine protected areas, especially around Anguniaqvia Niqiqyuam and Tarium Niryutait in the western Arctic, Liu said.

The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators said its members are required to “always comply with local and federal speed regulations and other legally required environmental protections.”

But the association has no additional regulations regarding the speed of cruise ships, said Anne Øien, the association’s communications manager.

Pond Inlet lies at the heart of the Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area.

As such, Kristin Westdal, scientific director of the conservation organization Oceans North, supports the call for reduced speeds for ships traveling in and around Tallurutiup Imanga.

Westdal said all operators should slow down in an area that is “sensitive and important habitat for narwhals”.

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association has not yet responded to a request for comment regarding the call for cruise ship slowdowns.


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