Nunavut Post

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Plastic found inside Arctic char has Nunavut hunters fearing for local food sources


Key takeaways: 

  • ‘It’s only one more thing that shouldn’t be in the Arctic, that is in the Arctic.’
  • Billy Merkosak, a hunter in Pond Inlet, states he’s noticed plastic inside the bellies of Arctic char — and one of the differences he’d like to see, to attempt and curb the issue, is less plastic packaging in grocery shops. 

Hunters in Nunavut say they’ve seen plastic inside the bellies of Arctic char — a fish that’s an integral part of Inuit culture, usually eaten raw, frozen, or boiled. 

Bobby Greenley, the Ekaluktutiak Hunters and Trappers Organization chairperson in Cambridge Bay, said the problem began cropping up four or five years ago. 

“We’re seeing it in the stomachs of the fish we’re doing studies on,” he stated. “We’re beginning to get more whales near our area; they might be sucking [plastic] into their stomachs.”

Greenley said it’s terrible for the animals but bad for people’s safety.

Also read: Iqaluit gives a city-wide boil water advisory Friday due to ‘mechanical failure’

Hunters in Nunavut say they’ve seen plastic inside the bellies of Arctic char

“It can get sucked up into somebody’s outboard [boat] motors and cause them harm. Next thing you know, you’re saving people broken down in the center of the ocean.”

Billy Merkosak, a hunter from Pond Inlet, has noticed plastic inside fish. It’s a finding that’s “very scary” and leaves him wondering about the health of his community. 

Plastic arrives from near and far.

Scientists say it’s difficult to understand how much plastic pollution is in the Arctic. Still, a recent study published in the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment looks at where it’s arriving from and what can be done. 

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