KEY NORTH AMERICAN MIGRATION SITES FOR
Red Knots & Semipalmated Sandpipers

Akimiski Island

Country: Canada

Region: Nunavut,

Nearest city/town: Attawapiskat

Site: Akimiski Island

Species/Sub-species: SESA

Total biogeographic population: 2,260,000

Count Method: Total estimate and maximum day count

Count: 100,000 2,3,4

% biogeographic pop. at site: 4.42

Season (primarily): Fall

Site recognition: IBA

Site recognition (other): IUCN category 1b – Wilderness Area. The eastern two-thirds of the island is the Akimiski Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary, and the Canadian Wildlife Service has identified most of the coastline as a Key Migratory Bird Terrestrial Habitat site.

Site description: Using the Ramsar Classification System for Wetland Type, the site's habitat characteristics are sea (open sea); shrubland (scrub/shrub); wetland (salt marshes/brackish marshes; freshwater marsh, fen); and marine and coastal supratidal [mud or sand flats (saline)].2,4 Land ownership is Crown Land (provincial). The eastern two-thirds of the island is the Akimiski Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary, and the Canadian Wildlife Service has identified most of the coastline as a Key Migratory Bird Terrestrial Habitat site.2,4 It is part of the Attawapiskat First Nation's traditional territory. Where migratory bird sanctuaries are located on federal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the management and protection of migratory birds, nests, eggs and habitat. Where migratory bird sanctuaries are located on provincial land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests, while the chief game officer of the province is responsible for the management of habitat. Where migratory bird sanctuaries are located on private or municipal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests; habitat management is the responsibility of the landowner.5 Existing knowledge about the site has been gathered through shorebird research, and in Natural Heritage Information (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry).6

Known threats: Known threats for this site are listed according to the Open Standards Threats Classification system. Extraction of nonrenewable resources (mining and quarrying) is a site threat. Expansion of a diamond mine near Attiwapiskat is under consideration, which could increase the potential for contaminants. A large chromite deposit has brought strong interest for mining development west of Attiwapiskat, east of Webeque. Mining and associated infrastructure development could potentially affect areas downstream and out to James Bay. In terms of exploitation of renewable resources, there is a medium threat from possible energy production/mining (renewable energy). Currently none is planned, but the potential for wind power is significant, as is the case for wave energy and hydro-electricity generation upstream, along major tributaries flowing into James Bay, which could affect flow rates, turbidity, flow volume and contaminant input.

Notes: The site boundaries follow IBA map on the BirdLife International Data Zone website (2001). In 1997, a fall migration count recorded over 100,000 Semipalmated Sandpipers, which is almost 4% of this species’ global population.100,000 (total estimate), (4.42% of biogeographic population)2

Sources: 1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akimiski_Island 2http://www.ibacanada.org/site.jsp?siteID=NU036 3Iverson and Friis unpubl. data 4http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sitefactsheet.php?id=11292 5https://www.ec.gc.ca/ap-pa/default.asp?lang=En&n=A8290732-1 6https://www.ontario.ca/page/natural-heritage-information-centre 7http://www.protectedplanet.net/akimiski-island-migratory-bird-sanctuary-migratory-bird-sanctuary 8http://www.giscoeapp.lrc.gov.on.ca/REA/Renewable.html?site=REA&viewer=REA&locale=en-US 9Andres, B.A., P.A. Smith, R.I.G. Morrison, C.L. Gratto-Trevor, S.C. Brown and C.A. Friis. 2012. Population estimates of North American shorebirds. Wader Study Group Bulletin 119(3): 178–194.