Sunday, April 02, 2006

Inuit Request for higher Narwhal Whale Hunt Quota Denied

CBC News

The Nunavut community of Repulse Bay has been denied a 50 per cent increase in its quota for hunting narwhal.

The community's request to increase its quota was turned down Thursday by the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board. The Board says it is not satisfied hunters in the community have a good enough reason for a substantial increase.

The Arviq Hunters and Trappers Organization wrote a letter in December to Fisheries and Oceans Canada asking for the increase. The hunters want the existing allowable harvest to go from 72 whales to 108.

The HTO says the community, located 880 kilometres west of Iqaluit, is growing, and the 72 they are allowed to harvest are not enough to go around.

But Fisheries and Oceans recommended the request be denied, and the Management Board agreed.

Fisheries spokesperson Stefan Romberg says the northwestern Hudson Bay stock is estimated between 3,500 and 4,000 whales, based on aerial surveys taken in 2000. Scientists predicted the narwhal population would be at risk within 10 years if a higher quota was allowed.

"Thereby the recommendation from DFO was that the increase of the quota of this much would show a decline in the population in that area and that's why the advice came through [to reject the increase]."

According to Fisheries data, last year close to 100 narwhal were actually killed in Repulse Bay. Because of the difficulty of marine hunting, many carcasses were not recovered by the hunters.

The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement gives priority to the rights of Inuit to hunt. The organization that oversees its implementation, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., wants to establish a better process with the NWMB.

NTI wants the land claims agreement given more weight when determining quotas and requests for increases.

To see Inuit art carvings of narwhals, see the Inuit whale sculptures section of Free Spirit Gallery

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