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Canada proposes change in narwhal hunting quotas

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is proposing dividing narwhal into six populations and setting hunting quotas based on the number of narwhal in each group, rather than giving a certain number of tags to each community.

The new hunting quota proposal is part of a draft Integrated Fisheries Management Plan for Narwhal.

Fisheries and Oceans banned the international export of narwhal tusks from 17 communities in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut in December 2010.

But the department agreed to work with Nunavut Tunngavik, the Nunavut Inuit land claims organization, on a new management plan after the land claims organization prepared to challenge the ban in court. The ban on exporting tusks has been lifted, except in the High Arctic community of Grise Fiord.

This week, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board is holding public hearings on the draft management plan.

"The HTOs (Hunters and Trappers Organizations) and community representatives that are here to listen will have a chance to ask questions and also comment on their concerns," said Peter Kusugak, acting chair of wildlife management board.

The board will make a decision on the proposed changes by September.

Fisheries and Oceans officials say they need a management plan approved by January to present to the Committee on the International Trade of Endangered Species in May 2013.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.