DFO, NTI spar over new narwhal management plan
“It’s decision time for the board. It’s up to them.”
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans still hold many conflicting views on the draft Narwhal Integrated Fisheries Management Plan set to be implemented January 2013.
A public hearing was held this week in Iqaluit, where Nunavut representatives discussed the draft narwhal management plan and made suggestions to the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board.
The hearings were hosted by the NWMB, which makes the final decision on recommendations that will go to the DFO minister in mid-August.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans developed the management plan in consultation with Inuit organizations like NTI, Hunter’s and Trapper’s Organizations, and Regional Wildlife Organizations from around the territory.
But NTI said many Inuit organizations have not yet had time to review the DFO’s request for decision, and that the DFO and NTI were “unable to reach agreement on a joint draft plan.”
“The draft plan proposed in this proceeding is a DFO document,” reads NTI’s comments submitted for the plan.
NTI wants to see more consultations with communities in Nunavut, calling the current consultation process “incomplete.”
NTI took aim at many parts of the report, mostly those concerning quota levels. They question the scientific integrity of the total allowable catches for certain narwhal stocks.
But NTI said it does support approval of the plan if the DFO consults communities over certain discrepancies, if management measures are revised in the way NTI suggests, and that a three-year review plan is set after implementation.
The DFO took issue with six recommendations NTI made, however.
One of them is that the NWMB board should make fewer decisions on management of stocks and quotas. NTI want to see an approach similar to that used for the polar bear harvest.
“We respectfully disagree with NTI’s view,” said Joseph Justus, the senior fisheries and aquaculture management officer for DFO.
“Management of mixed stocks is complex and a suite of management tools is needed that will account for harvesting perfect stocks,” Justus said.
“The simple management approach, such as individual community quotas, will not provide the conservation of narwhals,” he said.
The DFO is proposing to create six management units, from which quotas are then allocated to regional wildlife organizations. Tags are then issued to the HTOs, who distribute the tags to hunters.
The current quota system allows for specified numbers of narwhal per community.
The total allowable landed catch for the management units would be, in DFO’s proposal:
• Somerset Island – 532
• Admiralty Inlet – 233
• Eclipse Sound – 236
• East Baffin Island – 122
• Northern Hudson Bay – 157
• Smith/Jones/Parry – 0
Another issue the DFO took with NTI’s recommendations is a recommendation not to close fisheries when the total allowable catches are exceeded.
“Removal of regulatory management tools will ultimately harm conservation of narwhal stocks and will diminish our ability to demonstrate internationally that Canada has effective mechanisms currently in place,” Justus said.
These objections don’t surprise NTI wildlife consultant Glenn Williams.
“We were always aware of these differences. The response from the DFO is not a surprise. They have been consistent,” Williams said. “It’s decision time for the board. It’s up to them.”