In Nunavut, approximately 23.4 million hectares (10% of the territory as of 2010) are designated as protected. Environment and Climate Change Canada maintains 16 protected areas in Nunavut, including 5 National Wildlife Areas (NWAs) and 11 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (MBSs), comprising almost 10 million hectares of the territory's protected lands and waters. Of these 11 MBSs, Boatswain Bay and Hannah Bay, both located in James Bay, share boundaries with two provinces. While the marine portion of these sanctuaries is part of Nunavut, their land portions are located in Quebec (for Boatswain Bay MBS) and Ontario (for Hannah Bay MBS). Nunavut is also the location of the largest protected area in Canada – the Queen Maud Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary, which covers, more than 6 million hectares of marine and terrestrial habitat.

Map of Environment and Climate Change Canada's Protected Areas in Nunavut

Map of protected areas in Nunavut. (11) Seymour Island MBS (9) Prince Leopold Island MBS (2) Bylot Island MBS (10) Queen Maud Gulf MBS (7) Harry Gibbons  MBS (5) East Bay  MBS (4) Dewey Soper MBS (8) McConnell River  MBS (1) Akimiski Island MBS (3) Boatswain Bay  MBS (6) Hannah Bay MBS (3) Nirjutiqavvik (Coburg Island) NWA (2) Ninginganiq NWA (5) Qaqulluit  NWA (1) Akpait NWA (4) Polar Bear Pass NWA

Long description for the Map

Map showing the number of Environment and Climate Change Canada's protected areas in Nunavut - 16 in total divided among 5 National Wildlife Areas (NWAs) and 11 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (MBSs).

Learn more about Nunavut...

List of Protected Areas in Nunavut

The tables below contain information about the NWAs and MBSs shown on the map above. In addition to the name, year of establishment, and size of each protected area, the tables indicate how these sites fit into national and international networks of conservation areas. The following entities may be noted:

Ramsar: Wetland of International Importance

Important Bird Area (IBA)

Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN)

Biosphere reserve of the The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB)

National Wildlife Areas

NWA NameYear establishedSize in hectares
Akpait NWA201079,145
Ninginganiq NWA2010336,352
Nirjutiqavvik NWA (Coburg Island)1995178,328
Polar Bear Pass NWA1985263,673
Qaqulluit NWA201039,822

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries

MBS NameYear establishedSize in hectares
Akimiski Island MBS1941353,421
Bylot Island MBS19651,282,731
Dewey Soper MBS1957816,600
East Bay MBS1959112,826
Harry Gibbons MBS1959143,812
McConnell River MBS196036,803
Prince Leopold Island MBS199230,399
Queen Maud Gulf MBS19616,292,820
Seymour Island MBS19755,302

Access and Permitting

Although access to NWAs is not restricted, the primary purpose of these areas is to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitats, and therefore most NWAs are not equipped with facilities to accommodate public visitation. Unless otherwise posted, all recreational activities are prohibited within NWAs.

Although access to most MBSs is not restricted either, the primary intent of these sanctuaries is to protect migratory birds, and therefore hunting, as well as disturbing or molesting migratory birds, their eggs, nests or habitat, is prohibited.

A permit may be obtained from the Minister of the Environment authorizing the conduct of certain activities in an NWA or MBS, if the Minister or delegate is of the opinion that the proposed activity:

  • will not interfere with the conservation of wildlife; or
  • is consistent with the purpose for which the protected area was established; and
  • is consistent with the management plan for the protected area.

Contact Information

Additional information on entry, prohibited activities and permits in Environment and Climate Change Canada's protected areas is provided on the Management and Activities web pages of the NWA and MBS. For more information on Environment and Climate Change Canada's protected areas in Nunavut, please contact the regional Environment and Climate Change Canada office:

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Prairie and Northern Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas & Stewardship
Eastern Arctic Unit
P. O. Box 1714
Iqaluit, Nunavut
X0A 0H0
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)

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