Premier says government won’t regulate online caribou meat sales

Suggestion prompted by concerns about declining Kivalliq caribou herds

The federal government has given $800,000 to the Kivalliq Wildlife Board to study the effects of climate change on local food sources, like caribou. (Photo by David Kakuktinniq)

By Dustin Patar

Nunavut’s premier says his government has no intention to regulate the online sale of caribou meat by Inuit.

Instead, “that responsibility should be with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.,” Joe Savikataaq said during question period in the legislature on Monday.

“As a government, we are bound by the Nunavut Agreement.”

Savikataaq offered the remarks in response to a suggestion made by Baker Lake MLA, Craig Simailak, that the government work with NTI to reopen certain sections of the agreement in order to protect declining Kivalliq caribou herds.

The worry, raised by Kivalliq MLAs through the legislature’s recent winter sitting and past sittings, is that online sales could be contributing to already dwindling caribou populations.

“Caribou in the Kivalliq are in a crisis,” said Cathy Towtongie, MLA for Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet.

“A lot of it is due to overhunting and internet sales.”

Although Savikataaq said he hasn’t had any conversations with NTI about the online sale of caribou meat since the agreement was signed, he suggested that if NTI wanted to push for it, “NTI could control the sales of caribou meat within the territory.”

In 2018, Savikataaq presented the findings of a GN-funded population assessment that demonstrated “a continued declining trend” for the Qamanirjuaq herd in the Kivalliq region.

At the time, he said his department would continue to work with the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board to see if management actions are needed.

Past annual reports prepared by the board have indicated that online sales could be contributing to the herd’s decline.

For NTI, the relationship between dwindling Kivalliq caribou populations and online meat sales isn’t straightforward.

“At this time, there remains some uncertainty about the exact quantity of meat sales that have been occurring, especially over social media, and its impact on caribou populations,” said James Eetoolook, vice-president of NTI, in a statement to Nunatsiaq News.

“In the absence of adequate information, it would be premature to propose restrictions.”

Instead, NTI says it will continue to support the Government of Nunavut and other management partners in collecting information on the amount of online meat sales, which caribou populations the meat is coming from and which regions it’s going to.

Efforts to track those sales through the airlines hasn’t been successful in the past.

Acknowledging the concerns related to online caribou meat sales, NTI scheduled a series of regional caribou workshops last year, but only managed to hold its Kitikmeot workshop before cancelling the others due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NTI says it is currently working on resuming those workshops for the Kivalliq and Qikiqtaaluk regions, where it hopes to discuss, among other things, community-based management plans.

“Management plans have been an effective tool in managing wildlife in Nunavut and could be used in conjunction with other management tools such as total allowable harvests and non-quota limitations,” said Eetoolook.

But first, NTI says more information on caribou meat sales needs to be collected.

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(15) Comments:

  1. Posted by voter1 on

    And so continues the saga of the Cabinet without opinions.

    Carbon Tax. No opinion. (Feds did it!)

    Airline merger. No opinion. (business decision!)

    Baffinland Phase 2. No opinion. (nirb’s job!)

    Caribou sales. No opinion. (NTI’s job!)

    Heres MY biggest Q right here, if you can’t form an opinion on any of the burning issues of the day, what are you doing in leadership???

    • Posted by josywales on

      What will your response be GN as you have claimed many times that you have the final say in game management rather than NTI?

  2. Posted by Concerned,about a moratorium on

    I see a moratorium in the foreseeable future in the kivalliq region and its concerning If our 5-7 year olds will able able to
    harvest caribou when they become of age in a few years down the road. All levels of government must take a long hard
    look at this issue when the caribou population is at a decline in numbers just take a look of what happened in the Baffin
    region a few years ago.

  3. Posted by caribou meat lover on

    isn’t time with the technology and manpower we have today, i think we could set up a caribou farm. Good business and good meat for everyone. Instead of few dollars going to individuals and declining the great of herd of ours before depletion.

    • Posted by Opportunist on

      If the logistics work out, this idea could be an excellent business venture!

    • Posted by Valhalla on

      Reindeer herding has been practiced for hundreds of years across the circumpolar north from Finnmark to Siberia. Surely it can be done here.

      • Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

        Unfortunately caribou have been semi domesticated the past thousand years. Caribou are not. They are still 100 percent wild and would be too stressed out

  4. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    Just a question. Doesn’t the regional Hunters and Trappers organizations have control over caribou and fishing limits?

  5. Posted by Eskimo Joe on

    Kivalliq Inuit Association blocked exploration to save the caribou. And yet they do not stand in the way of the very thing killing them. The Nunavut Agreement clearly states that people can harvest and sell. But there has to be some kind of regulation to keep the herd numbers up.

    • Posted by eskimo joe on

      “Eskimo Joe” get off my handle, find your own…There’s one Kivalliq man who sells about one hundred a year to Baffin, no wonder we are losing herds…..that seller is just from one community. and there are about 6 in southern kivalliq community who sell about the same amount. do something GN or you lot don’t deserve to be there where you sit. Everything this siting gov appears to disintegrate to nothing.

  6. Posted by Me on

    GN imposed caribou tags for quota, they should lift that since it is under the NLCA or have no authority to impose fines

    • Posted by eskimo joe on

      It’s no direction, hands washed of this issue by GN. why is NTI involve anyway? this org has been toothless since inception. the only thing NTI has done is to issue or implement a small check to seniors (wow 120 a month, I will now starve for sure). They have no idea where they stand on a language issues, housing issues, no opinion on education (eradication of syllabics?), so why or what make you think NTI will do something important as wildlife? NTI; do what you do best, fancy hotels/meals and travel to meet about somethings. Oh yeah, the banks and travel industry loves you GN sorry.

      • Posted by Ian on

        MP,SIlent on twitter on this

        • Posted by Shrugs on

          Not really her issue is it?

  7. Posted by Bandwagon on

    Be like QUK in north baffin and blame agnico for the decline


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