New DNA insights can help transform Arctic marine biodiversity and fisheries management.

Nunavut Fisheries Association and eDNAtec form research alliance: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge with eDNA

Crew members of the Kuviuq fishing vessel, owned by the Arctic Fishery Alliance, taking eDNA water samples in Baffin Bay

Newfoundland & Labrador – May 10, 2022 – There are significant knowledge gaps relating to Canada’s biodiversity in the north, including Inuit Nunangat. Traditional environmental programs have been limited due to remote, harsh arctic conditions.

The Nunavut Fisheries Association (NFA) and environmental genomics specialists, eDNAtec, have partnered, through a MOU to bridge this knowledge gap, expanding upon their Canada’s Ocean Supercluster project, OceanDNA System™.

“We are building capacity using environmental DNA (eDNA) water sampling techniques on our commercial and research vessels,” said NFA Executive Director, Brian Burke. “This research, which is taking place in the harsh conditions of Canada’s Eastern Arctic, is being incorporated into NFA’s annual fisheries research and tracking programs to improve understanding of the marine environment and management of fishery resources.”

According to eDNAtec CEO, Steve Barrett, eDNA sampling can be easily done by non-scientists in remote communities and is proving to be safer, faster and less expensive than ever before. “This technology also aligns with Inuit philosophy that ecosystems must be viewed as a whole versus by individual species,” he added. “By improving ecosystem knowledge, northern communities can be more involved in directing the environmental stewardship of their coasts, such as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).”

“We are integrating Indigenous Knowledge with eDNA to improve stock management, invasive species detection and biodiversity assessments,” said Burke. “This will build on our existing research and is not only important for NFA’s offshore fishery but also for assessing inshore fishery potential for communities in the Qikiqtani region and across Inuit Nunangat.” 

ABOUT NUNAVUT FISHERIES ASSOCIATION: The Nunavut Fisheries Association (NFA) is a non-profit organization established to provide a unified industry voice for Nunavut’s fishing industry. NFA represents four Inuit-owned quota holders, including the Arctic Fishery Alliance, Baffin Fisheries, Qikiqtaaluk Corporation and the Pangnirtung Fisheries/Cumberland Sound Fisheries Partnership.

ABOUT eDNAtec: eDNAtec are specialists in environmental genomics­ ­– we transform how to assess, monitor, and characterize ecosystems through DNA sequencing, which enhances environmental stewardship of our planet’s marine and terrestrial biodiversity. eDNAtec works closely with the world’s ocean industries, including energy, fisheries, and the Government of Canada.


Brian Burke, Nunavut Fisheries Association
[email protected]

Caron Hawco, eDNAtec
[email protected]

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