Sea kayakers who paddled Northwest Passage charged with Parks-related offences

Sirmilik National Park, where several alleged offences took place last summer resulting in the arrest of four sea kayakers. (David Rodger/Parks Canada)

A group of four sea kayakers is facing a long list of charges in connection to alleged offences that took place in Nunavut last summer.

Mark Agnew, Edward Hansen, Eileen Visser and Jeffrey Wueste have all been charged under the Canada National Parks Act and the Migratory Birds Convention Act for incidents that took place at Bylot Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary and Sirmilik National Park, north of Pond Inlet.

Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada say they are investigating.

“The offenders have been informed,” Parks Canada spokesperson Megan Hope wrote in an email to CBC. “Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead before visiting a national park in Canada and should be aware of relevant rules and laws before entering one of these sites.”

In October, the group was hailed as the first kayakers in recent memory to paddle the Northwest Passage. That trip came a year after their original efforts failed.

The group faces several charges each, including:

  • Using public lands in a park contrary to the Canada National Parks Act;
  • Possessing a firearm in a park contrary to National Parks Wildlife Regulations;
  • Disturbing wildlife in a park contrary to the National Parks Wildlife Regulations;
  • Unlawfully entering a park without registering as required by the superintendent, contrary to the National Parks General Regulations;
  • Unlawfully entering a restricted area in a park, contrary to the National Parks General Regulations; and
  • Camping on public land in a park contrary to the National Parks of Canada Camping Regulations.

They were also charged with possessing a firearm in a migratory bird sanctuary, contrary to the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations.

The group was arrested, interviewed and released in Cambridge Bay on Aug. 25, 2023.

CBC could not reach the group for comment.

Their first court date is scheduled for Jan. 8 in Iqaluit.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Conservation an important path forward for Nunavut’s economy, says report, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Conservationists find more critically endangered Arctic fox cubs in Finnish Lapland, Yle News

Greenland: Canada and Greenland sign letter of intent on marine conservation area in Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Climate change hits back at Svalbard, coal mine flooded by melting glacier in Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

RussiaOral histories unlock impact of climate change on nomadic life in Arctic Russia, says study, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Extra billions to SAS – but with stricter climate requirements, Radio Sweden

United States: Conservation groups sue government over Alaska mining road, The Associated Press

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