Subject: Beluga and narwhal quotas in the Canadian Arctic (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Fri, 20 Nov 1998 14:16:28 -0500 (EST)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 07:44:11 -0800
From: MARMAM Editors <marmamed@UVic.CA>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Subject: Beluga and narwhal quotas in the Canadian Arctic (fwd)

Nunavut Edition Headline News

November 12, 1998

Fisheries minister lifts beluga, narwhal quotas

Fisheries Minister David Anderson announced that he's lifting beluga
quotas for Iqaluit and Kimmirut next year.

                   DWANE WILKIN
                   Nunatsiaq News


Federal fisheries minister David Anderson has relaxed small whale
harvesting quotas in Nunavut on the condition that hunters help
monitor beluga and narwhal populations. Anderson told the Nunavut
Wildlife Management Board this week that he will accept the board's
recommendation that beluga quotas in Iqaluit and Kimmirut be lifted
next year, provided that hunters work with fisheries officials to
assess the real impact of hunting on southeast Baffin beluga stocks.

The minister has also agreed to the wildlife board's proposed
three-year management plan for narwhal, which will see quotas lifted
in every community, also subject to a number of conditions. But
although the board reiterated demands for expanding the territory's
share of the Davis Strait and Baffin Bay turbot quota, the best the
minister could offer was a promise that Nunavut would get any future
increase in quota for the northern region. Greenland and Canada
currently share evenly a total allowable catch (TAC) of 11,000 tonnes
per year.

"We hope to continue work on increasing that TAC, and if any
increase in TAC does takes place, it'll be possible to make the
changes immediately to accommodate the Nunavut fishery," Anderson
said. Prior to boarding a flight to Pangnirtung, where he was
scheduled to tour the Pangnirtung Fisheries processing plant, the
minister said he would approve the Nunavut Wildlife Management
Board's proposed changes to narwhal and beluga quotas.

Dan Pike, executive director of the Nunavut Wildlife Management
Board, described the changes as a "real movement of responsibility to
the local level."

No open season

But the changes do not imply that wildlife authorities have declared
an open season on belugas and narwhals, Pike cautioned. "It's a
lifting of quotas if communities can fulfill certain conditions,"
Pike said. "One goes along with the other, that's a real critical
thing to understand. Nobody's talking about just lifting quotas
across the board."

Changes to the whale hunting regulations will require that all
communities adopt a reporting system that will enable wildlife
officials to properly monitor the actual number of beluga and
narwhals killed each season. This means providing an accurate
estimate of the number of animals that are wounded during a hunt, but
which manage to escape, presumably to die later.

"When you're talking about the science and you don't have the
information on how many animals are killed, the number of animals
landed is less important that the overall number of animals who die,
even if they're not recovered," Anderson said. "So we're trading off
certainty in terms of numbers landed, for better information on
stock." Hunters and trappers organizations (HTO) must now come to
some agreement as to how such a reporting system will function.

HTOs will control narwhal

In the case of narwhals, each community HTO will be responsible for
bringing in a set of local bylaws to control hunting in their own
areas. The bylaws would be expected to establish specific non-quota
requirements for narwhal hunting, such as appropriate hunting methods
and possession limits. "We want them to ensure the conservation of
narwhal and ensure that there's not going to be a tremendous increase
in harvest. It's up to them to devise specific rules for their
communities," Pike said.

Knowledge of beluga populations has increased significantly since
1991, when quotas were first imposed on Iqaluit and Kimmirut..
At the time, Pike said, it was believed that there was one stock of
beluga shared between Iqaluit, Kimmirut and Pangnirtung.
But new information suggests that hunters from each of these
communities have been harvesting separate population groups.

Although total absolute numbers are not known, "there's no evidence
whatsoever that populations hunted by Iqaluit and Kimmirut have been
reduced or depleted," Pike said. More importantly, the wildlife board
argued, the quotas themselves do not limit the harvest, since hunters
from Iqaluit and Kimmirut rarely reach those quotas.

Iqaluit has never reached its annual quota of 35 beluga since it was
imposed in 1991, and Kimmirut's summer quota of 20 animals has only
been reached once. "We're not expecting to see any increase in
harvesting, since people are presumably taking as many beluga as
they want or can access now," Pike said.

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