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Doug Chaisson was in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, this week, meeting with the hunters and trappers organization. (Submitted by World Wildlife Fund) Two communities in Nunavut are working on building sustainable commercial fisheries with the World Wildlife Fund.

Cape Dorset is looking at focusing on crab and shrimp, while Sanikiluaq will start an Arctic char fishery and may also harvest scallops and mussels; both fisheries are still a few years off.

Doug Chiasson, a specialist on Arctic Fisheries for WWF, says the communities need about three to five years of research to figure out how to make the project sustainable in the long term. Creating a sustainable economy

Doug Chiasson is a senior specialist on Arctic Fisheries for the World Wildlife Fund. (Submitted by World Wildlife Fund) "Through the scientific research that comes along with some of this fisheries development, we’re going to be able to learn a lot about the biodiversity of these areas, that hasn’t necessarily been researched before," Chiasson said.

He says funding these small-scale fisheries is in line with WWF’s goal to have a sustainable economy in the Arctic.

"We see community fisheries as being a sustainable and renewable form of economic development for communities in Nunavut. It builds on traditional harvesting…and can have real market economy impacts and help put money in people’s pockets," he said.

He says WWF is in it for the long-haul with the communities as the projects will take time. WWF is partnering with the hunters and trappers organizations in both communities and funding for the project will come from WWF, which is supported by international foundations and individual donors.

Chiasson says while some of the world’s largest commercial fisheries exist off the coasts of Alaska and Russia, small-scale local fisheries like these are more rare in the Arctic—though Chiasson says some similar projects exist in Greenland.

The idea is the fisheries will be able to sell to neighbouring communities and depending on supply, to southern Canada and internationally.

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