Arctic as a Food Producing Region


The aim of this project is to assess the potential for increased production and added value of food from the Arctic, with the overarching aim of improving economic and social conditions of Arctic communities. The Arctic or northern areas are already important as a food producing region, but has potential to become even bigger. By focusing on biological (climate change), industry (commercial resources, infrastructure and industry policy) and market conditions the project will explore and describe possible paths of development for arctic food production. The aim is to identify conditions for increased production, new species and last but not least the potential for added value of food from the Arctic.

The project is lead by Norway, with the support of Canada, Iceland, and the United States.

Read the full project description at:

Canadian Activities

The Canadian initiatives to support The Arctic as a Food Producing Region project is being lead by Dr. David Natcher of the University of Saskatchewan.

Activities include:

Activity 1 –  Canadian-Based Permanent Participant Steering Committee

The three Permanent Participants with Canadian membership - Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich'in Council International, and Inuit Circumpolar Council (Canada) - have formed a Steering Committee to assist with the Canadian activities of the project. The Steering Committee is responsible for providing guidance on the existing research planned for the  project and will be the coordinating body for determining what specific projects should be pursued in Phase 2. 

Steering Committee members are:

The Steering Committee is assisted by a Project Collaborator (Sara French - Contact:


Activity 2. Regional and National Inventories of Commercial Food Producers

An inventory of over 315 value chain actors, including producers, processors, transportation services, and wholesalers has been completed. Local food producing initiatives such as community gardens and greenhouses have also been recorded. In addition to recording the location and regional differences in food production, we are also recording (where data is available) the volumes, margins, and number of actors involved. The data are being mapped and once compiled will be made available through an interactive mapping program. In addition to identifying the total export of wild foods, the total volume of southern imports of meat products to northern communities (e.g., beef, chicken, pork, processed meat products) will be determined. These two inventories will demonstrate to the total import and export of meat products and the associated costs/revenues.

Activity 3 - Legal Analysis of Commercial Food Production

A legal analysis of northern commercial food production in Canada will consider how land claims and other regional restrictions influence the transportation and sale of country foods. Legal conditions that regulate the processing, transportation, and sale of fish and meat products serve as significant barriers to northern food security, with the result being that even when country food supplies are available, they remain inaccessible to many northern food consumers. The analysis considers the role of the legal system in enhancing or posing obstacles to the food security of Arctic communities. Following a definition of food security and the particular challenges for Arctic communities in maintaining food security the analysis examines relevant federal and territorial laws as well as the provisions of modern land claim agreements to assess the role of law in enhancing or posing obstacles to the food security of Arctic communities.

Activity 4 – Cultural Dimensions of Commercialization

This part of the study looks at whether new and commercially based food-producing markets are compatible with the cultural values of northern Indigenous peoples. If these new strategies are at odds with local values, commercial opportunities stand little chance of success – regardless of market demand. In partnership with the Inuvialuit Regional Government, a country food assessment is being done with the community of Paulatuk. This assessment involves the delivery of household surveys that quantify the total volume of country foods harvested by household members over a 1-year period. These volumes will be compared to harvest data compiled in 1997 (last year harvest data were recorded) to determine changes in country food consumption at the household and community levels. In addition to harvesting data, the extent to which households are engaged in the sharing, barter and/or sale of country food between Paulatuk households and with other communities will be identified. Local attitudes concerning the sale of country foods will also be studied.