Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) Vice-President James Eetoolook today announced that NTI has agreed to purchase 1,000 kgs of Arctic char from the Nattivak Hunters and Trappers Organization (HTO) in Qikiqtarjuaq. The fish is being harvested from Qammartalik Cove, where there is no total allowable harvest or conservation concerns. NTI will give some of the fish away to assist with food security and will sell some of the fish to a variety of buyers.
“Inuit have fundamental harvesting rights in the Nunavut Agreement, which include fishing without first obtaining any sort of license, when there are no conservation concerns, to meet our needs. This includes the right to dispose of the fish for commercial purposes,” said Eetoolook.
Officials in Nunavut’s current fishery management regime have repeatedly suggested that Inuit commercial fishing requires an exploratory license, an approved management plan or a provisionally defined fishery. NTI rejects all such suggestions as contrary to the rights of Nunavut Inuit under the Nunavut Agreement. Eetoolook noted that NTI made the decision to buy and sell the fish to assert Inuit fishing rights, rather than get involved in the commercial fishing industry. This is a one-time purchase.
“NTI takes its role of protecting fundamental Inuit harvesting rights very seriously. After careful consideration, and to ensure those rights are not further ignored or diminished, NTI chose to exercise those harvesting rights on behalf of Inuit,” said Eetoolook.
NTI is helping establish the ground rules for Inuit to participate in the commercial fishing industry. Eetoolook also said that NTI is continuing to work on the development of Nunavut fisheries regulations with Fisheries and Oceans Minister Hunter Tootoo.