Nunavut Impact Review Board


The Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) is an institution of public government created by the Agreement between the Inuit of the Nunavut Settlement Area and Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada (Nunavut Agreement) to assess the potential impacts of proposed development within the Nunavut Settlement Area prior to approval of the required project authorizations. Using both traditional knowledge and recognized scientific methods, the NIRB assesses the potential biophysical and socio-economic impacts of proposals and makes recommendations and decisions about which projects may proceed. The Board may also establish monitoring programs for projects that have been assessed and approved to proceed.

The NIRB recently completed a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait. The purpose of this SEA was to understand the possible types of offshore oil and gas related activities that could be proposed in the Canadian offshore waters of Baffin Bay and Davis Strait in the future, and their associated risks, benefits, and management strategies.

Unlike a normal NIRB review, the SEA was not focused on a proposed development project. Instead, it was focused on possible and hypothetical scenarios that outlined possible activities and components of the oil and gas lifecycle that could realistically be expected to occur if oil and gas development was approved in the area.

In 2016, the federal government placed a moratorium on new oil and gas activities in all offshore Canadian Arctic waters and agreed to review this decision every five (5) years, starting in 2021. The NIRB submitted its Final SEA report and recommendations to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs on July 31, 2019  informing this decision. On September 9, 2019 the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Northern Affairs wrote to the NIRB to formally acknowledge receipt of the Final SEA Report and Recommendations. The Minister indicated that CIRNAC will continue to work with federal and Nunavut organizations to review and analyze the Board’s findings, which represent key considerations in the five-year review of the moratorium on oil and gas activities in Canada’s Arctic offshore waters. The Minister also congratulated the Board for its work.

The conclusions and recommendations of the SEA in Baffin Bay and David Strait present cumulative effects as an important point of future assessments for valued ecosystemic and socioeconomic components, including food security. If the moratorium is lifted, it was recommended that research be conducted with respect to the potential for cumulative effects on marine fish, waterbirds, and marine mammals.

It was noted that cumulative effects assessments should seek to understand the interaction between oil and gas activities with existing and potential future activities, including mining, marine transportation, commercial fishing, Inuit harvesting and traditional land use, and practices. It was further recommended that collaboration and input should be sought from all parties of the SEA and should be informed by community-based monitoring programs.

Cumulative effects studies are shown to be relevant to a better understanding of air quality and greenhouse gas emission and for the acoustic environment of marine wildlife.  

View Source I

View Source II
Chapter 10: Summary of board recommendations, SEA in Baffin Bay and David Strait, 31 pp.

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