Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. President Cathy Towtongie today announced that NTI filed an application for judicial review in the Federal Court challenging the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ decision to ban export of narwhal tusks and related products from 17 Nunavut communities.
DFO notified NTI of the ban by an undated letter in December. NTI was not made aware of the restriction prior to it being imposed, and Inuit were not consulted. DFO’s actions violate Inuit harvesting rights as set out in Article 5 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
After receiving DFO’s letter, NTI asked DFO to reverse the decision. DFO refused to do so. Towtongie said NTI had no choice but to file the application in order to preserve and protect Inuit rights.
“DFO does not have the right to make such a decision without consulting Inuit and respecting the process established in the NLCA,” said Towtongie. “In NTI’s view, DFO has based their decision on questionable data. DFO’s research shows the population is thriving, and harvest numbers do not threaten the species. NTI has not yet had the chance to present its views to the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, which was established by the NLCA to ensure Inuit harvesting is sustainable.
DFO’s restriction stated that export permits will not be issued for tusks harvested from Grise Fiord, Arctic Bay, Resolute Bay, Clyde River, Qikiqtarjuaq, Pangnirtung, Iqaluit, Kimmirut, Cape Dorset, Coral Harbour, Repulse Bay, Hall Beach, Chesterfield Inlet, Rankin Inlet, Whale Cove, Arviat and Sanikiluaq. Communities permitted to continue to export narwhal tusks are Kugaaruk, Taloyoak, Gjoa Haven, Igloolik, and Pond Inlet.