The role of project-based impact assessment in considering the impacts of resource development related Arctic shipping

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Dueck, Simon
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Transportation by sea is the main method for the movement of goods in the Arctic. With longer ice-free periods, and new technology, the increases in ship traffic experienced over the past few decades are expected to continue. Resource development projects are an important source of ongoing increases in regional shipping. My thesis attempts to understand the potential of Nunavut’s impact assessment (IA) framework to meaningfully identify and address the impacts associated with project related shipping. To achieve this purpose, I conducted a literature review and document review of several recent IAs in Nunavut. To enhance the data collected through the document review, I carried out interviews with experts and participants of the IAs studied. The results of my work indicate that IA in Nunavut routinely includes shipping impacts within the scope of assessment, and many shipping related concerns have been documented throughout IA proceedings. Further, my findings indicate that IA can influence project shipping through mitigation measures and consultation requirements. However, my data also reveal that important factors serve to limit the reach of project-IA when attempting to impose conditions on project shipping that exceed the requirements of regional shipping regulations. One example of this relates to the lack of spill response capacity and the implications of this for the Canadian Arctic. Nonetheless, my findings demonstrate that IA is an important forum for resource management in Nunavut, and that IA offers critical opportunities for shipping impacts to be addressed on a project basis moving forward.
Impact Assessment, Arctic shipping, Resource development, Spill response, Environmental Impact Assessment, Nunavut Impact Review Board