Ultimately the NMRPC is a marine use planning organization with the mandate to produce a plan that guides development and conservation of the Nunavik Marine Region (NMR).
The purpose of developing a marine use plan for the NMR is to protect and promote the existing and future well-being of those communities adjacent to or using the NMR and, where necessary, to restore the environmental integrity of the NMR.
Per NILCA 6.2.1(b) special attention is devoted to promoting well-being of Nunavik Inuit.
The NMRPC will rely on the best available Nunavik Inuit knowledge, knowledge and experiences of residents, and scientific information as a basis for planning and decisions. It can take several years for a plan to be drafted and approved. However, the absence of an approved marine use plan does not change the role of the NMRPC.
Until a marine use plan is in place the NMRPC must still screen project proposals as per NILCA, particularly articles 7.3.2, 7.3.5, and in accordance with Schedule 7-1 of the NILCA.
All activities that fall within the boundaries of the Nunavik Marine Region must submit project proposals to the NMRPC before work is done.
Any projects requiring Federal or Territorial permits or authorizations for their work, must submit their proposal and follow the NMRPC and NMRIRB processes before any other permits or authorizations are issued for the project (NILCA 7.10.1).
Activities can range from research projects to cabins, docks, filming, bottom mapping, cruise ships, laying marine cables to mineral or oil extraction.
On the islands in the NMR projects are reviewed by the NMRPC regardless of who owns them; however, project proponents for activities involving islands in the NMR must also go to Nunavut organizations for various approvals as Nunavut has jurisdiction for permits and authorizations on islands in the NMR. For example, the Scientist’s Act of Nunavut is also applied on islands in the NMR, meaning researchers require research permits from the Nunavut Research Institute to undertake work on the islands. Archeology permits are also under the jurisdiction of the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Culture and Heritage.
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In 2015 the NMRPC launched the Marine Protected Areas Project. Activities included a knowledge exchange workshop in 2016, and another workshop on marine protection options in the NMR in 2017. Over 2015-2018, the NMRPC concluded interviews in Nunavik communities and completed a Land Use and Occupancy Mapping (UOM) Project. In 2019-2020, data gathered through the UOM was analyzed to identify community use patterns and community engagement, then validation of results commenced.
Since 2018, the NMRPC has worked to prepare broad planning policies, objectives and goals and launched associated consultations in 2019, though COVID-19 measures have postponed completing this work. Additionally, the NMRPC has worked on various elements necessary for the Marine Use Plan, including defining planning subareas and reviewing ecologically and biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs), valued ecosystem components (VECs) and Valued Socio-Economic and Environmental Components (VSECs) documented in the NMR.
The NMRPC has worked since 2020 to fill staff vacancies, renew and streamline operating procedures and internal policies, update bylaws and governance policies and prepare to undertake various outreach initiatives. Other activities have included the ongoing participation of the NMRPC on matters related to marine transportation, marine conservation and implementing guidelines and rules of procedures for project proponents.
The NMRPC continues to keep its work plans and budgets up to date and plans activities as time and funding allows. Of high priority to the commission is to complete the Marine Planning Strategy, which will outline the broad planning polices, objectives and goals required for our work. Finalizing this document requires various communications and public relations activities and undertaking a community tour. The Community Tour is set to begin in January of 2023.