Hunters in Chesterfield Inlet say shipping from Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank gold mine near Baker Lake is one of the reasons they’re seeing fewer marine mammals.

Preliminary hearings are underway in Rankin Inlet this week in preparation for the environmental review of Agnico Eagle’s next project: the proposed Meliadine Gold Mine near Rankin.

Barney Aggark raised the issue at that meeting yesterday. He’s with the Chesterfield Inlet Hunters and Trappers Association.

"I don't know where you heard our sea mammals were going away before the shipping started but they weren’t,” Aggark said. “Our mammals took off after the shipping route started for Meadowbank.”

Aggark says they’ve noticed the loss of marine mammals since shipping started from the mine near Baker Lake. He says he's going to fight for compensation.

Larry Connell is manager of regulatory affairs with Agnico Eagle Mines. He says they've heard the concerns about how shipping affects marine mammals, but, he says, they need clear evidence.

“We know that there are less marine mammals being seen by the hunters in Chesterfield Inlet,” Connell said. “But nobody has yet shown us evidence that it is caused by ships."

The Nunavut Impact Review Board's preliminary hearing conference continues today.