Friday, May 12, 2006

Concerns Over Narwhal Hunting in Greenland and Nunavut

A joint Canada-Greenland wildlife commission is pressing Greenland to cut the quota for its annual narwhal hunt due to concerns that the world could ban the trade of narwhal tusks. A committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will review the status of the narwhal this summer. Greenland only introduced quotas on narwhal and beluga hunting two years ago. A total of 310 animals were taken on last year's hunt. The committee recommended at a meeting last month that future quotas should be fewer than a 135.

Scientists have raised concerns about declining numbers of the sea mammals for some time. There's evidence that beluga numbers in West Greenland are half of what they were before, while narwhal populations have declined to 25 per cent of their historical numbers.

Even though Nunavut hunters in Canada do not hunt the Western Greenland narwhal population, Nunavut's representative on the joint commission says CITES decisions can affect hunters in the territory.

"There's a potential for the organization to come down hard on Greenland in terms of narwhal trade that would ultimately affect Nunavut or Canada," said Joe Tigullaraq, who is also chair of the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board.

Greenland will set its new annual quota by July 1, when its new hunting season begins. The CITES review is scheduled to begin just a few days later.

For some nice Inuit sculptures of narwhal and beluga whales, see Inuit Whale Sculptures at Free Spirit Gallery.

No comments: