Nunavut Tunngavik Vice-President James Eetoolook advises Inuit that legal action against the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is continuing. Eetoolook said NTI expected an announcement from the court in the near future.
NTI initiated legal action after DFO put an international trade ban in place on narwhal tusks from 17 Nunavut communities. The ban was announced by DFO officials in Ottawa in December, 2010, with no prior notification or consultation with Inuit in Nunavut or the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board.
“NTI took legal action against DFO’s decision to restrict international trade in narwhal tusks because we had no other choice. It is a very strong reaction, but we need to send a clear message to DFO that Inuit will fight for our rights when our land claim is not being respected,” said Eetoolook.
DFO has consistently refused to explain what data they based their decision upon. The narwhal population is believed to be extremely healthy in Nunavut.
NTI, Hunters and Trappers Organizations and Regional Wildlife Organizations have requested that DFO visit each of the 17 affected communities to explain the justification for the international trade ban and to explain DFO’s concerns with the current quotas for narwhals. DFO has refused to visit all the affected communities and instead will hold consultation meetings in only six communities later this month.