Four of Nunavut’s five bowhead tags approved for 2019
Coral Harbour, Naujaat, Pond Inlet and Igloolik will hunt whales this summer
Wildlife boards in Nunavut have approved four of the five bowhead whale hunt tags to be distributed throughout the territory in 2019.
The Kivalliq Wildlife Board okayed a plan for a spring bowhead hunt in Coral Harbour this year, though hunters from the community have yet to harvest a whale. The second Kivalliq tag has been given to Naujaat, which is planning a hunt for late August or September.
Just this week, the Qikiqtaaluk Wildlife Board approved bowhead harvest plans from both Pond Inlet and Igloolik.
The Kitikmeot region has yet to chose which community will host its 2019 hunt.
Since 2015, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ annual bowhead quota for Nunavut has been set at five whales: two allotted to the Kivalliq region, two to the Qikiqtani and one for Kitikmeot.
The harvest quota of Eastern Canada-West Greenland whales is set to help conserve the animals, which are listed as a species of concern under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.
The Eastern Arctic bowhead whale population is considered endangered under the act.
Commercial whaling almost wiped out Canada’s bowhead population in the early 20th century. In the 1970s, the Canadian government outlawed commercial whaling, but re-opened the hunt—with strict quotas—for Inuit in the 1990s.
While Nunavummiut hunters still use harpoons to hunt the whale, they also have access to motor boats, rifles and an explosive grenade to help quickly kill the animal, if needed.
The butchering of the whales, which can measure up to 60 feet in length and over 100 tonnes in weight, is done by community members, who also share the muktuk.
“Keeping [this] tradition alive in this modern day is an honour and a privilege,” said a Coral Harbour hunter who helped harvest a whale in the Kivalliq last year.