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A community-based approach to environmental effects monitoring in the Beaufort Sea

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Cott, K.; Cobb, D.; Chiperzak, D.





Renewed interest in oil and natural gas in the Beaufort Sea has led to concerns about environmental effects resulting from the oil and gas activities. While environmental effects monitoring programs are being conducted by industry to meet regulatory requirements, and by government agencies in relation to cumulative impact assessment, nobody feels the importance of understanding the environmental changes resulting from oil and gas activities more than the people that live in coastal communities. With the settlement of land claims in Canada's arctic, a co-management approach to resource allocation and use, research, and monitoring has been established. This new form of governance in the arctic is dependent on a high level of community involvement and consultation. The Tariuq (Ocean) community-based monitoring program was piloted in Tuktoyaktuk and Aklavik in 2001 as one of the initiatives under the Beaufort Sea Integrated Management Planning Initiative. It is consistent with the principles outlined in Canada's Oceans Act and Canada's Oceans Strategy. The program engages coastal communities in monitoring the health of the Beaufort Sea through their participation in the selection of indicators, conducting of monitoring activities, review of monitoring results, and finally the dissemination of the findings back to the community. Tariuq concurrently, builds capacity within the communities and presents an opportunity to engage and train youth in scientific sampling methods. Community-based monitoring provides the benefits of incorporating traditional knowledge and scientific methodology into a monitoring program. It can also provide a broader spatial and temporal coverage than industry and government monitoring programs.

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