Back to list

Co-chairs: Tiff-Annie Kenny (Université Laval)

Matthew Little (University of Guelph)


Global environmental change is projected to impact marine primary productivity, species distributions, and abundance in coastal regions. For Arctic Indigenous peoples, these changes may have significant public health impacts. Locally harvested marine species (including marine mammals, fish, and other seafoods) are rich sources of protein, micronutrients, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and are indispensable to community food and nutrition security. At the same time, seafood-rich diets are associated with elevated exposures to environmental contaminants, such as mercury (a potent neurotoxin), with Inuit experiencing some of the highest exposures globally. Given their rich nutrient profile, the lack of affordable healthful alternatives in many coastal Arctic communities, and critically, the importance of seafood to coastal cultures, the status of marine ecosystems is inextricably linked to identities, social relations, and human health among Arctic Indigenous peoples. Linkages between ocean and public health, however, are highly complex, contextual, and mediated by local cultural, socioeconomic, and political conditions. In this session, we aim to initiate a conversation between Indigenous community leaders, researchers, and practitioners from diverse fields (ranging from fisheries science to toxicology and human nutrition) and sectors (from communities to academia and policymakers) to share research, experiences, innovations, and ideas on adaptation measures for addressing the changing Arctic ocean in coastal communities. In particular, we aim to highlight innovative methodologies for the inclusion of local perspectives, priorities, and knowledge within research and intervention/policy at the interface of changing ocean conditions and community health.