Greenland clamps down on walrus overhunting

New law imposes quotas, regulations


Heeding criticism from conservationists and international wildlife management bodies, Greenland has finally clamped down on the annual walrus hunt.

On July 5, Greenland’s cabinet passed a new executive order on the protection and hunting of walrus, which entered into force on August 1.

Earlier this summer, the Canada-Greenland Joint Commission on the Conservation and Management of Narwhal and Beluga warned
that health of the walrus population in West Greenland, which is probably shared with Canada, is of concern.

The commission said more research should be done on walrus, and asked Canada and Greenland to do a joint review of the potentially shared walrus population.

The work on revising the hunting of walrus had been going on since the Home Rule government’s November 2000 decision to change the management system for beluga, narwhal, polar bear and walrus, says a Greenland government news release.

“Of significant amendments to the new executive order can be mentioned the protection of calves accompanied by females and adult
females (the Local Authority of Qaanaaq is exempt from this requirement) and of walrus on land or at haul-out sites,” says the release.

Another significant amendment is the introduction of quotas and permits starting from August 1.

This means that the only people allowed to catch walrus are now those with a hunting license.

And hunting is only allowed within certain areas and restricted to certain period.

According to the new order, walrus must be harpooned before any shots are fired. Floats or buoys must be attached to the harpoon in
order to avoid losing the catch.

The requirement of harpooning is due to the fact that many walrus are lost every year because they sink after having been shot, says the

This month, quotas for the walrus hunt will be fixed. This quota will be fixed “in consideration of international agreements, biological advice, user knowledge and following consultation with the Hunting Council,” says the release.

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