In Nunavut, Greenland and the circumpolar North, cultural identity, food security and socioeconomic systems are highly dependent on healthy marine ecosystems. Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida, uugaq in Inuktitut, eqalugaq in Kalaallisut) is a key species in Arctic marine ecosystems. A forage fish used by Inuit as dog food and bait for Greenland halibut fishing, it is also a nutritious prey for almost all marine species harvested by Inuit, including ringed seal, narwhal, beluga and thick-billed murre. Climate change is pushing boreal forage fish such as capelin and sand lance northwards to the Arctic, and predators have to adapt their diet. However, capelin and sand lance are lower in energy than Arctic cod and are often not adequate to fulfil the energetic needs of Arctic predators. Anticipated changes in Arctic cod populations will have important consequences for Inuit culture, health and wellbeing.
In this project, we will develop a community-based monitoring program to track coastal schools of Arctic cod, and document their migration patterns, age-composition, diet, and traditional uses. In addition, we will encourage our community partners to share any observation of ‘’new’’ fish species they encounter to track the northward expansion of boreal fish species in Nunavut and Greenland. We will implement our community-based monitoring program based on Inuit Qaujimajatugangit (Inuit traditional knowledge) and using the mobile application SIKU: the Indigenous Knowledge Social Network. The project will provide new knowledge on Greenland and Nunavut forage fish populations and help developing mitigation and adaptation strategies for a changing Arctic.
Arctic Eider Society