Pikialasorsuaq, the North Water, is the largest Arctic polynya and the most biologically productive region north of the Arctic Circle. Leading polar scientists and other international institutions have focused on the Pikialasorsuaq in recent decades because of its biological, economic and cultural importance.
Pikialasorsuaq has been recognized by Inuit for generations as a critical habitat. Inuit use and occupation of Northeast Canada and Greenland is linked to Pikialasorsuaq and the abundance of marine life it supports.
The northern ice bridge that helps define this polynya was also likely the earliest human migration route between Canada and Greenland. This bridge, connecting Umimmaat Nunaat (Ellesmere Island) and Northwest Greenland, is symbolic of the strong ties between Inuit and the desire to cooperate and to arrive at a common vision for shared resources.
Communities in the Qikiqtani and Avanersuaq regions continue to directly rely on the polynya’s biological productivity. Pikialasorsuaq is a critical resource for many migratory species upon which these communities, as well as Inuit communities farther afield, depend.
“The purpose of the Pikialasorsuaq Commission is to recommend an Inuit strategy for safeguarding and monitoring the health of Pikialasorsuaq (the North Water polynya) for future generations – and explore avenues for establishing an Inuit lead management regime for Pikialasorsuaq. This will be based upon consultations and further cooperation between Inuit communities in Nunavut and Northwest Greenland who depends upon this polynya and its biological productivity.”
The Pikialasorsuaq commissions report and its recommendations were adopted by the General Assembly of the Inuit Circumpolar Council in July 2018 and the Pikialasorsuaq Implementation Committee (PIC) was officially formed by the ICC Executive Council on 3 December 2018.