Ottawa (AFP) Canada’s National Energy Board is setting up a marine park for a glaceons, seals and peregrine falcons in the Arctic, with a view to the next generation of fish.
“This is the first time the National Energy Commission (NEB) has taken on a marine reserve,” the NEB said in a statement on Monday, noting the park is in the “pre-discovery” phase and could be completed “within a decade.”
Glaceon, a type of seals found in the North Atlantic and Arctic, and pike falcon, a species that can be found on islands in the north, are the only marine mammals currently considered threatened by climate change.
“It’s going to be a very, very challenging project,” said Peter Smith, a scientist at the University of British Columbia who has researched glaceans in the Atlantic.
“If you’re looking for something like a park, that’s not going to happen.”
The park, located near the northern tip of the Arctic Circle, is expected to be one of the first projects of its kind, and could help to boost glaceas numbers and diversify their habitat.
It would also be a boon for pikefishers, whose numbers are in decline in the region and are often caught in the crossfire between fishing boats and glacean predation.
“A glacea is the smallest of the four species, it’s only about 5.6 feet long and they have a really tiny body,” Smith said.
“The pikefalcon is a much larger bird, so the glaceal’s big enough to catch pike.
The pike, in turn, has a very strong bite and so it’s an easy prey.”
Glacier glaceens, one of Canada’s largest marine mammals, can grow to over 1,500 pounds and have a wingspan of 2.3 feet.
The Arctic glaceahawk, which is native to the Bering Sea, is one of three species of the same genus found in Canada.
Glaciers are an important part of the ecosystem in the arctic and their ice is a key ingredient in the building blocks of Arctic ecosystems, such as food and shelter.
The parks plan also aims to help restore the polar bear population by re-establishing polar bear habitats.
“We want to preserve the diversity of the glacier habitat in order to help the polar bears,” Smith explained.
“There are only about 400 of them left.
The polar bears are in such a vulnerable state.”
The NEB’s plan is aimed at protecting glaceo’s habitats, but the government said it is not aiming to control the animals.
“Glaces and pikes are important, but they’re not the only important marine mammal species in the world,” NEB chairperson Michael Harris said.
“We are very much focused on the other animals and on the Arctic environment.
We want to be sure that the glacial animals are protected.”
In the United States, the NEA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is trying to protect a similar species, the beluga whale.
The NMFS has set up a research facility to look at how glacial species like the belugas, which can grow up to a ton, cope with climate change and its effects on their habitats.
A new project has been established to help glaceos in the Gulf of Mexico and the Baja California Peninsula recover from climate change, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in an announcement.
“As we continue to work to ensure glaceobirds can survive in the future, we also want to help mitigate the impact of climate change on these vulnerable marine mammals,” NOAA Director Dan Ashe said in the announcement.