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Three-year narwhal trial recommended

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Monday, July 30, 2012

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) recommends the federal government adopt a draft narwhal management plan for a three-year trial period and then review its success.

The federal government proposes to divide narwhals into six populations and allocate harvest quotas for each based on where they spend their summer, as opposed to giving tags to each community.

The proposal, made through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' draft integrated fisheries management plan for narwhal, underwent review by the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board in Iqaluit from July 24 to 26.

"We're not really opposed to any management plan as long as the Inuit knowledge is built into it," said James Eetoolook, NTI vice-president.

Under the proposed system, the wildlife management board would set a basic need level - number of animals Inuit would like to harvest - for each population, but hunters cannot exceed the total allowable harvest level. The regional wildlife organizations would in turn allocate the basic need level for each population amongst the hunters and trappers organizations (HTOs) in the form of community harvest limits, states the proposal. HTOs will distribute the limits through marine mammal tags to its members.

"We have some challenges," said Eric Kan, eastern Arctic area director for DFO. "We are making some changes and obviously with changes, there are some concerns from everyone."

One of the issues raised, explained Kan, is the difficulty some communities, such as Pond Inlet, Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq, could experience managing the marine mammal tags as those three communities could potentially harvest narwhal from two management units due to narwhal migration. The federal government would like those communities to use two sets of marine mammal tags.

The draft plan was developed in collaboration with NTI, regional wildlife and hunter and trappers organizations. If accepted, the plan would be effective January 2013. The federal government is aiming to have a new plan in place in time for the Committee on International Trade of Endangered Species meeting in March 2013.

The review board will have roughly until mid-August to make a decision.

Recommended harvest levels

  • Somerset Island - 532
  • Admiralty Inlet - 233
  • Eclipse Sound - 236
  • East Baffin Island - 122
  • Smith and Jones Sounds, Parry Channel - 0
  • Northern Hudson Bay - 157

Source: Fisheries and Oceans

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