'It doesn't make any difference if it's a gift, purchase or bartered item.'

Wildlife cops target country food smugglers


Don't take fish or caribou out of Nunavik unless you can prove that you caught them yourself.

This the gist of a recent warning from Quebec to residents of Nunavik who are not beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and who want to take country foods out of the region.

"It doesn't make any difference if it's a gift, purchase or bartered item, the result is the same: you are breaking the law and may face a fine," warns the Feb. 13 news release which was posted throughout Nunavik in Inuttitut, French and English.

If non-beneficiaries want to eat fish that they didn't catch or meat that they didn't hunt, they should eat it in Nunavik.

"If they want to bring it out, that's a problem. We want to stop that," said Claude Bourque, the director of Quebec's wildlife protection service in Kuujjuaq.

By law, non-beneficiaries may not bring country food out of Nunavik unless they have permits proving they caught it themselves.

Non-beneficiaries with permits may take up to five fish and two caribou out of Nunavik.

Non-beneficiaries caught transporting fish with no permit may face fines of up to $100,000. For the illegal transportation of meat, the fines start at round $1,800.

"We have received complaints about people returning south with large amounts of country food," Bourque said.

To make sure non-beneficiaries don't continue to stuff coolers, boxes and suitcases with char and caribou, Quebec's wildlife and natural resources department plans to start airport searches in 2008.

Inuit beneficiaries may bring country foods out of Nunavik if they're for private consumption.

But the James Bay land claims agreement prohibits Nunavimmiut from exchanging or selling meat or fish from subsistence hunting to non-beneficiaries.

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