Hue and cry over humpback kill

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, a lobby group for protection of whales, dolphins and their environment, is upset over the news that a juvenile humpback whale was fatally injured in Greenland last month.

The group says this is the not the first killing of humpbacks by Greenlanders this year. Another is believed to have been killed in fishing gear near Paamiut in Southern Greenland. Two humpbacks were also shot, but lost at sea, last year and two more caught in nets. Ten more humpbacks are believed to have drowned in crab nets in Greenland in 2000.

The latest animal, found near Sisimiut in western Greenland, measured around 10 metres. It had so many serious rifle wounds it could not dive and was shot by a game warden.

The sale of humpback meat is prohibited in Greenland, and meat from illegally caught animals is confiscated. Greenland media reported that the meat from this recent humpback kill was distributed to public institutions, including kindergartens and retirement homes.

As humpback hunts increase in Greenland, the chairman of Greenland’s hunters’ Association is calling for legalization.

In 2002, the International Whaling Commission renewed the Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling quotas on whale stocks hunted by aboriginal hunters in Greenland. The IWC permits the hunting of 19 fin whales, 175 West Greenland minke whales and 12 East Greenland minke whales each year until 2006. In 1986, on the advice of its Scientific Committee, the IWC set zero quotas for humpback whales.

In addition to killing over 200 fin and minke whales, Greenlandic hunters also kill a large, but unknown, number of small whales each year, including belugas, narwhals, pilot whales and orcas.

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