DFO funds scientific beluga hunt in James Bay

Money is in addition to $50,000 promised after quotas were slashed


The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is offering $50,000 toward a scientific hunt in James Bay.

Michel Tremblay, a DFO advisor for the aboriginal fishery in the Quebec region, said this money is in addition to the $50,000 announced in June to help Nunavik hunters organize a hunt after their quotas were slashed.

DFO reduced harvest quotas to 15 whales per community to protect the dwindling beluga population. Biologists had warned that without cutting quotas, the animals would become extinct within 15 years.

Under the management plan, each of the 14 communities can harvest a maximum of 15 beluga from Hudson Strait and James Bay. Hunting is prohibited in Ungava Bay and the eastern part of Hudson Bay.

Because the announcement came late in the season, DFO offered $50,000 to Makivik Corporation to help the communities that needed to redirect their hunt. It was to be used for things such as gasoline and boat rentals.

After the DFO minister met with people from Makivik, Tremblay said, it was decided a further $50,000 will go to organizing a scientific hunt in James Bay.

“A scientific hunt is a hunt where we are going to have scientists supervising the hunt and obtaining samples in James Bay,” Tremblay said.

The whales taken will go to Nunavik hunters, he said, and those numbers will be taken off the James Bay quota of 55 animals.

“It’s not something which adds to the existing quota,” he said. “The management plan is still the same.”

Tremblay said the hunt was supposed to happen this year, but admitted the time is passing by quickly.

Paulusi Novalinga, the head of Nunavik’s Anguvigak Hunters and Trappers Association, said he hasn’t been informed that a scientific hunt has been approved.

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