After a nearly two-year standstill, cruise ships will be returning to the Canadian Arctic, bringing both opportunity and concern.
Several cruise ships have applied to pass through the Northwest Passage into the Northwest Territories (N.W.T.) in 2022, according to the environmental impact screening committee's website.
This is reported by CBC News.
The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) released a three-year cruise ship management plan earlier this year with an plan for handling increased traffic as the climate continues to warm and the ice on the Northwest Passage melts.
The plan acknowledges the reality of climate change as well as the danger and opportunities.
Protect and preserve
"Visiting the Inuvialuit Settlement Region by cruise ship showcases our remarkable coastal communities in a unique and memorable way," IRC Chair Duane Smith writes in the plan.
Operators will be expected to support the local economy.
The plan outlines policies to ensure the protection of vulnerable Arctic Ocean ecosystems and traditional lifestyles, to make sure that beneficiaries will benefit financially and that the community is protected from illnesses like COVID-19.
Ulukhaktok is among the most popular stops in the N.W.T. for cruise ships.
But Mayor Ray Ruben Sr. thinks it is too soon to open up for cruise traffic and that the risk of COVID-19 entering the community would outweigh any benefits.
As a result of these concerns and others, the IRC is requiring tourists to receive permission from communities before entering. The permission will need to be proven before anyone steps ashore.
There will also be health and safety restrictions in place, including assurances no one with COVID-19 will enter any communities. That means no one aboard can have had any COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days prior to arriving.
Do not disturb
The plan also prohibits any disturbance from fishing, hunting or trapping, and states that the person will be financially liable for any losses resulting from the cruise.
It also outlines opportunities for Inuvialuit.
"Operators will be expected to support the local economy," the plan reads.
This includes hiring local guides for community tours, engaging local performers for cultural tourism experiences, and purchasing arts and handicrafts from local artists.
"Local artisans express their culture and traditions through their work, and their handmade products inspired by the land provide sustainable and respectful souvenirs," the plan reads.