Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. is encouraging Inuit to contact their Hunters and Trappers Organizations and Regional Wildlife Organizations to discuss their use of beluga, narwhal and walrus prior to a public hearing being hosted by the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board next month. The hearing will be held in Iqaluit on Sept. 11-12, 2012, and is a step in the process to establish the basic needs levels for Inuit of beluga, narwhal and walrus as required by Article 5.6.25 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
NTI Vice-President James Eetoolook called the implementation of this article long overdue.
“During NLCA negotiations, Inuit and government could not determine how the basic needs levels for beluga, narwhal and walrus should be established. It was agreed that the NWMB would determine this at a later date. Inuit have been very patient, but it is now time to sign off on this article. NTI believes that Inuit maintain the right to the entire total allowable harvest of beluga, narwhal and walrus,” said Eetoolook.
The NLCA established that Inuit have the right of first access to harvest wildlife if there is a total allowable harvest established for that population of wildlife. The right of first access to a population of wildlife is determined by either: 1) the NWMB establishes a total allowable harvest level for a population and strikes a basic needs level by calculating harvest levels based on the Nunavut Wildlife Harvest Study; 2) The NWMB presumes that Inuit need all of the total allowable harvest established by the NWMB for the population.
Following the public hearing, the NWMB will determine how to establish the right of first access and the needs levels of Inuit for beluga, narwhal and walrus. Eetoolook urged Inuit to make their HTOs, RWOs and NWMB fully aware of the social, cultural and economic importance of beluga, narwhal and walrus to Inuit.