Ottawa: Narwhals, bowhead whales and beluga are iconic species of the Canadian Arctic. They play an important role in the ecosystem of the Arctic Ocean, and contribute to the livelihood and culture of Indigenous and coastal communities. Studying how these whale populations are affected by changes to our environment will help us understand the steps we need to take to make sure the species are swimming in our waters for future generations of Canadians.
Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, announced $228,736 over three years in funding provided by the Sustainable Fisheries Science Fund to the University of Manitoba. This project involves the analysis of DNA from narwhal, bowhead whale and beluga species to determine how these populations are structured, and to further assess how their population sizes may be affected by climate change, harvest levels, and human-caused changes to their environment over time.
This unique project will generate new data on the genetic structure, health and populations of these three whale species from the time period before European settlement in the Arctic through to the present day. This information will increase our understanding of how Arctic whale stocks may be affected by environmental changes, and will be used when making decisions on how best to manage the species so Indigenous and coastal communities can continue their way of life, and the species can thrive for years to come.