Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik November 16, 2016 - 4:00 pm

Nunavik’s beluga hunting season closed as of Nov. 14

Regional hunters group working towards larger quota in 2017

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Inukjuak hunters butcher a beluga whale outside the Hudson coast community in October,  before they distributed the maqtaq among residents. (PHOTO BY YVES CHOQUETTE)
Inukjuak hunters butcher a beluga whale outside the Hudson coast community in October, before they distributed the maqtaq among residents. (PHOTO BY YVES CHOQUETTE)

Nunavik’s 2016 beluga is officially closed for the season—this time for good.

The region’s total allowable harvest for the season was reached Nov.14, Fisheries and Oceans Canada said in a Nov. 15 notice. That signals the closure of harvesting areas in Eastern Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, Ungava Bay and Ottawa Islands.

While Nunavik’s beluga hunting season typically runs from April to November, the most recent beluga management plan, introduced in 2014, left those harvesting areas open to hunting beluga through until Jan. 31, 2017.

But above-average catch rates in 2014 and 2015 meant that Nunavik hunters harvested the plan’s 762-whale quota early, closing the season in August, before some communities had a chance to harvest their own quotas.

That prompted the Nunavik Marine Region Wildlife Board to request an additional quota so those communities could take advantage of a fall autumn hunt.

The DFO approved the request and in mid-October, the federal agency opened a restricted beluga whale hunt in the Hudson Strait area for six communities to harvest between three and four whales per community: Puvirnituq, Akulivik, Kuujjuaq, Quaqtaq, Ivujivik and Kangiqsualujjuaq.

The NMRWB is now in discussion with the regional hunters association, Nunavimmi Umajulirijiit Katujiqatigininga (RNUK), Makivik Corp. and DFO to come up with a proposal for a new management plan, which will be up for renewal in early 2017.

The RNUK has said that Inuit knowledge suggests the beluga stock in the region is healthy and wants to see a larger quota for 2017.

The eastern Hudson Bay and Ungava Bay stock of beluga whales are considered endangered under the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

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