I think there are two parts to that question. First, I think it's really important that the government develop an Arctic strategy and that we have some harmonization across the different federal departments and link organizations like mine that are university-based to that kind of structure. Right now things are done in an ad-hoc fashion across the different players in the Arctic.
As far as the way Manitoba fits into this, it will come as a surprise to some of you in the room that Manitoba has the only deepwater Arctic port in North America, and we're a marine-based province. You don't normally think of Manitoba that way, but we are. My group at the University of Manitoba is the largest sea ice research group in the world, 150 people who all work on sea ice.
We're here because Churchill is such an ideal location for that kind of research. It gives you access to the entire Arctic. It's relatively inexpensive to get to because we have a rail line and we have aircraft to get us there, and we put the CHARS base in Cambridge Bay, as an example. We're just building a major research facility in Churchill called the Churchill marine observatory, or CMO as it's called.
It was delayed when the rail line was delayed, but we looked to move it to Cambridge Bay when all of this was happening and looked at the feasibility of having a major marine research base in Cambridge Bay instead of in Churchill. The cost became exorbitant because you have to fly all the time to get all the research staff and students and everybody else into CHARS.
The other really nice thing about Churchill is that it gives you inexpensive access to the Arctic in terms of transportation to get you in and out.
The Arctic marine system is just like the rest of the Arctic. You're above the treeline and all the processes that go on are truly Arctic in nature. It also has this interesting additional parallel in that you receive a lot of fresh water into Hudson Bay, which is analogous to what's going on in the High Arctic. If you look down at the North Pole and you see that big Arctic Ocean, it's also receiving a lot of fresh water from the continents, both on the North American side and the Russian side.
We use Hudson Bay almost like a model system of what the High Arctic is doing. It's giving us advance notice because it's at a little lower latitude so climate change is affecting it a little more slowly and it allows us to understand how things work there. From my perspective, Manitoba and Hudson Bay and Churchill are critical to our understanding of what's going on in the High Arctic and in the Arctic in a circumpolar sense. To me, it should play a very central role in any future strategy for the Arctic that we do as a country.
The other benefit is that the central and Arctic region of Fisheries and Oceans is now separating into two departments. One will be the Arctic and the other will be the central. The Arctic region of DFO will be situated in Winnipeg, so it's another good reason for Manitoba to play a central role in what's going on federally with the Arctic.