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Judge Stops Arctic Study Experiment Over Inuit Concerns

August 10, 2010

Government sources said that a judge in Canada’s northern Nunavut province has blocked a series of joint German-Canadian Arctic experiments after Inuit residents said the tests would hurt sea life.

On Sunday, the territorial judge granted a last-minute injunction that halts a major seismic program that began Monday in Lancaster Sound, north of Baffin Island.

Natural Resources Canada and Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute carried out the experiments.

Justice Susan Cooper agreed with fears from Inuit communities that the experiments have a negative impact on the area’s walruses, seals and whales.

David Crocker, an attorney for the Inuit, said the devices do not kill sea animals, but it could make them deaf and scare them away from the area.

“If the Inuits are right, they could lose their livelihood, their food source, their way of life,” Crocker told AFP.

The Canadian government did not say if it would appeal the decision.

National Resources Canada said in a statement that it “remains committed to the goal of its Geo-mapping program which is to increase our knowledge of the geology of the North.”

It also said that since legal proceedings were ongoing, “we do not wish to comment further at this time.”

Crocker told AFP that even if the government wins the case on appeal, it will be too late to proceed with the experiments this year.

Image Caption: Husky dogs on shore of Baffin Bay in Nunavut, Canada.

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