Feasibility assessment for a proposed national marine conservation area in Eeyou Istchee (in Eastern James Bay)

In May 2019, the Government of Canada and the Crees of Eeyou Istchee signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to assess the feasibility of creating a national marine conservation area (NMCA) in eastern James Bay.

The study area for the proposed NMCA is found within the James Bay Marine Region, one of the 29 marine regions that make up Parks Canada’s NMCA system.

The study area lies in eastern James Bay. This area stretches from Chisasibi, in Eeyou Istchee (northern Quebec), south to the Quebec-Ontario border. At almost 28,000 km², the study area is larger than Lake Erie!

The Eeyou Istchee lands and waters

Eeyou Istchee (pronounced: ‘ee-you is-tchee’)—the Cree lands and waters in Eastern James Bay—are rich in biodiversity. Many rivers flow through the area, bringing large amounts of freshwater to the Bay. This creates a special marine environment with a low concentration of salt. Here, you can observe freshwater fish swimming beside marine fish.

As a part of the larger Hudson Bay inland sea, James Bay is also a hub for migrating geese, ducks, and shore birds.

Enhancing the protection of these ecosystems both conserves biodiversity and fights climate change. This would also support the treaties and rights of the Eeyou (Crees) of Eeyou Istchee and their determination to maintain their culture and way of life. The Eeyou have been stewards to these lands and waters since time immemorial.

A proposed NMCA supports the balance between safeguarding ecosystems and supporting sustainable use. Protected areas provide Canadians opportunities to learn about their environment and help preserve vulnerable ecosystems.

Did you know?

The Eeyou (eastern James Bay Cree) and Inuit are stewards of this area. They have developed and nurtured shared relationships with the ecosystems and waters of James Bay.

James Bay is biodiverse, with species at risk like polar bears and beluga whales. The area is home to a special subgroup of beluga. These resident white whales spend the winter in James Bay due to its less extreme ice conditions than in the Hudson Bay.

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